Food is wasted throughout the entire food supply chain, from primary production to the end user. According to the hierarchy of food waste management, it is necessary to prevent the generation of waste, which means to efficiently and sustainably produce, process, store, sell, distribute… With changes in habits and behavior and minimal creation of surpluses. Consumers often avoid distorted or, say, ugly vegetables or fruits. It should be made aware that organically grown food is often irregular, dirty or, in a word, imperfect.
Of the total number of discarded food in Croatia, 76% comes from households, and 24% from the business sector. Most often, household food is thrown into mixed municipal waste, then disposed of in a composter and thrown into biowaste. Also, households often buy big amounts food, and therefore it is thrown away more often. The most worrying thing is that a very large part of the food thrown away is still edible food. It is thrown away due to the excessive amount of purchased and/or prepared food and due to the expiration date. For this reason, interesting and instructive conferences, activities and projects are organized.
It is commendable that the food donation system in Croatia is getting better, and it is planned that the Food Banks will take over the role of coordinators in donating and start working at the beginning of 2024 at the latest. The legislative framework for donating food was also improved and an IT system was established, which has already saved 700 tons of food. Positive examples from Europe and the world are being used more and more, and through business processes, efforts are being made to throw away as little food as possible in production and use all leftovers, in order to complete the whole story with an emphasis on zero waste.
The packaging also creates a problem
Researchers from the EU are developing ways to reduce food waste, as well as its packaging. The problem of waste goes beyond the food itself and includes its packaging, for which the industry produces a lot of plastic. Very little food packaging is compostable, and many plastic forms cannot be recycled. It is necessary to work on more durable bio-based materials that would be strong enough to support food and that could be decomposed after use. On the other hand, packaging should be designed using materials that can be fully composted or recycled.
In the EU, legislation requires that most prepackaged foods contain a date that indicates the threshold of their safety (“use by”) or quality (“best before”). As part of a general review of food labeling rules, the European Commission is considering a proposal to completely abolish the use of “best before” dates.
Solving the problem of consumer food waste remains a challenge both in the EU and worldwide. Education is also important for achieving goals, especially when it comes to excessive food waste in households. With sustainable habits that each of us can adopt very easily, we will make our environment more beautiful and greener, without waste. For everyone involved in the food supply chain, it is important to have a good and sustainable waste management plan, from start to finish. Contact the experts who will work with you on sustainability, consulting, who will produce sustainable and recyclable packaging with you, and who will offer you solutions for your waste.
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