Food waste is unnecessary wastage that can be eliminated, for example by preparing or storing food in a different way. Food is wasted at all levels of the food chain, but households are the most wasteful element.
In Finland, households waste 120–160 million kilograms of food, or 20–25 kilograms per person, every year. The total amount of food wasted across the food chain is almost four times this. Unnecessarily produced food is a burden on both the economy and the environment. The climatic effects of unnecessary food production and the resulting waste amount to approximately 1,000 million kilograms CO2 equivalent.
The Natural Resources Institute Finland is studying the volume of food waste and developing ways of monitoring and reducing it, as well as new ways of making use of by-products to promote the circular economy within the food system. The aim is to prevent the generation of waste, to return edible food to the food chain, and to use inedible food waste as nutrients in farming. The ultimate goal is to generate new business from food waste and by-products.
Both Finland and the European Commission are working to turn Europe into a recycling society by 2020, by which time all waste will be recycled. The EU’s Circular Economy Package includes the target of halving the amount of food waste by 2030. Meeting these targets requires cooperation with food producers and research organisations, as well as functional tools for the continuous monitoring and reduction of food waste across the entire food chain.
Photo on top of the page: Erkki Oksanen / Lukes archive