The European Charter against food waste was just presented at Milan Expo 2015, two weeks before the end of the six-month-long world’s fair which was focused on feeding the world.
Drafted by over 40 schools across seven European countries, and with advice from 50 municipal governments, it outlines concrete actions for cutting food waste from homes, supermarkets and restaurants. While Middle Eastern nations were not signatories, the guidance is applicable most everywhere.
Among the 80 suggestions to limit waste and promote sustainability are mandatory “doggy bags” at restaurants and public canteens and the use of glass water bottles, instead of plastic. Other recommendations include allowing supermarkets to redistribute food that is nearing expiration and turning schools into community food distribution centers.
The project is raising awareness to chronic food waste said Rita Biconne, the project manager of Felcos Umbria, one of the plan’s promoters.
Belgium, Cyprus, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom all participated, but the project also strives to impact in developing countries by encouraging local authorities in Europe to sponsor joint initiatives to improve food security around the world.
An estimated third of all food produced worldwide for human consumption is lost or wasted – about 1.3 billion tons a year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, with developed nations responsible for most of that figure. Rich countries waste nearly as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
The impact of food waste goes beyond finances. Environmentally, food waste equates to wasted chemical fertilizers, pesticides and transport fuels. It depletes critical resources such as land, water, and human capital. Then consider that rotting food creates methane, a greenhouse gases that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. (In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.)
The Universal Exposition in Milan opened on May 1 with the theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. Fifteen Middle East nations are among the 170 country and corporate participants who are exploring food safety and security, innovation in the food supply chain, and technologies to advance agriculture and biodiversity.
Green Prophet will report on how each nation is tackling world hunger, food waste, and agriculture in the face of climate change.
Image of rotten tomato by Joe Buglewicz/Fast Company Design
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