Initiatives on prevention of food waste in the retail and wholesale trades

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This project was initiated by the Nordic Council of Ministers and its waste prevention group. The background to the project is that waste prevention is the highest priority in the waste hierarchy according to the EU Waste Directive. One other reason is the heavily increasing discussions in society on food waste in general. The project has been focusing on amounts of food waste, causes for food waste generation and initiatives to reduce the amounts of food waste from the retail and wholesale sector. Furthermore it gives some recommendations to measures that could be taken to change the present situation.



Discussions and conclusions

It is generally hard to get a good overview of total food waste from the retail sector in the Nordic countries, partly due to lack of data and partly due to lack of willingness to publish data. However, the Norwegian data set is probably relatively representative for the whole region, and can be used as an estimate of the total situation at least regarding what types of food products that are most commonly turning into food waste — i.e. the composition of the food waste. The most important product groups with respect to tonnage are fresh bakery products, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. With regard to value, fresh meat, fresh ready meals and fresh dairy products are also of importance. This is shown in the Norwegian study and also mentioned by the respondents in the other countries. When it comes to amounts the estimation cannot be made based up on the Norwegian study — based on the figures in Table 1 and 3 the situation seems to be alike in Norway and Denmark but that more waste per Euro of turnover is generated in Finland and less in Sweden. Since the figures in table 3 is presented with a high insecurity this must only be looked upon as a rough estimate. There might be a number of reasons for this one being the characteristics of the sector for example the Norwegian retail sector is overrepresented by a large number of smaller shops, which might result in higher amounts of food waste than in countries with relatively larger share of big shops.


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