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.




The report is focusing on food waste from the retail and wholesale sector in the Nordic countries. Food waste, in general, can be said to be animal or vegetal waste from manufacture, distribution, sale and consumption of food. In the recent discussions about food waste, also the terms “unavoidable” and “avoidable” food waste have been used. The “unavoidable food waste” is animal or vegetal waste that origins from food but it is not likely that humans will eat it (bones, peelings etc.). “Avoidable food waste” often has the meaning “disposed food that could have been consumed if managed differently”. When surveying food waste from this sector it is difficult to separate these two categories — therefore the food waste amounts presented in this report is “total food waste”. This means for example that the bones from the pork chop is included. There is thus a need to clarify the terms and definitions, to have a better common understanding of what types of waste that is considered to be a lost resource when food is wasted. In other parts of the food waste chain the use of unavoidable and avoidable food waste is much more central since the avoidable food waste is the waste that is most easy to prevent. In the retail sector all food waste is in principle avoidable, and should as far as possible be prevented.


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