5 concrete actions to reduce food waste in your city

Climate Actions 4 min read

Sara Vande Velde, FoodWIN contributor

Read this article in Dutch Lea este artículo en español

Cooperation is key in the fight against food waste, but getting all actors around the table can be quite a challenge. Fighting food waste is an opportunity to create a positive climate in your city and can be achieved through concrete actions!

⚠️ We're giving a webinar on Foodwaste: Learn how cities take action on september 12th, 10 AM. Make sure to register here and lock a timeslot in your agenda! 🙌

⚠️ What is at stake with food waste

Globally, one third of food is wasted throughout the food chain. Many activities of the food chain are located in cities. These are mostly the activities happening at the end of the chain (in retail, processing industry and households) that account for about 70% of the total food wasted.

Why is this important? Food waste means losses in energy, raw materials and money. Furthermore, acting on food waste saves CO2 emissions and it is actually considered as the third best action for fighting climate change according to the Drawdown list.

📢 What is your advantage as city

Reducing food waste in a city enables to decrease waste bulk and processing, to save money for cities and citizens and to bring social value.

Cities have all ingredients to play a crucial role in food waste reduction. Local actors of the food chain are often in direct contact with city services (hospitals, garbage collection, schools, sport clubs, …). Also, cities can engage with local entrepreneurs. That way, your city is ideally positioned to connect different local actors.

🏆 What concrete actions to do as city

Here are action ideas for you as a city. Write down the most realistic actions for your city 👇

  1. Focus on awareness raising and motivation for citizens by organising campaigns combined with hands-on learning experiences such as workshops, events, competitions, etc.
  2. Invest in food waste prevention, it pays off! The impact a city can have in food waste reduction can be illustrated by a project in London. For every pound invested, waste processing companies saved 8 pounds and households saved 84 pounds!
  3. Take a closer look at city services and facilities. In canteens of healthcare centers, hospitals and schools, food waste often occurs in large quantities. Measurement of the food that is wasted gives an overview of the magnitude and location of the problem, raises awareness and is the first step in identifying focus points to develop a holistic food waste strategy.
  4. Redistribute surplus food to people in need to combat food insecurity, inequality and stimulate social engagement in cities. Municipalities are a key connector between food surplus (horeca and retail) and people in need (social organisations).
  5. Stimulate innovation and creative entrepreneurship. You can achieve this by organising innovation workshops or a food waste hackathon. Start-ups that create added value from food waste contribute to the circular economy and create jobs. This transforms your city into a creative hub for green start-ups. To stay on track in the long run, a city can support these green start-ups via subsidies or by fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems.

👏 Finished your list? Motivate your city council to tackle this issue and get your hands dirty while having fun!

🙋‍♀️ Who gets the responsibility on their plate?

Food waste is an issue that goes beyond one city- or municipality department. Which departments need to be involved mainly depends on the target group.
Is the focus on awareness of citizens? Then, the communication department will be involved. Stimulating entrepreneurship belongs to the economic department. Redistributing food waste is a social matter and includes the department working on poverty reduction.
Fighting food waste requires cooperation and multidisciplinary thinking. Cities and municipalities have the right ingredients to fight food waste in a transversal way.

🙋‍♀️ How to start your zero food waste journey?

FoodWIN supports European cities to reduce food waste through concrete actions, taking cities on a 3-step food waste journey:

  1. Diagnosis: Estimation of the amount of food wasted can help to see the magnitude of the problem, helps to locate it and is the first step to identify opportunities to reduce it.
  2. Strategy: Co-creation of a food waste strategy with all important actors of the food chain ensures a strategy that is adapted to the local situation. Here, cities play an important role to get all different actors around the table.
  3. Action!: Actions that are the product of a co-created strategy have a higher chance of success. After the implementation of actions, monitoring and evaluation is key.

💡 When you mention Bruges, you probably picture many small canals, chocolate and tourists. But did you know the city of Bruges has a Zero Food Waste strategy as well? Check out the Bruges study case to see how they tackled food waste in their city.

FutureproofedCities allows all city services to work together in one online tool to realise more climate actions and communicate them to their inhabitants. Fighting food waste can also be implemented as a measure (and related actions) in the tool!

(Sources: FoodWIN, Drawdown.org, West London Waste Authority)

⚠️Want to learn more? Enroll in our webinar on Foodwaste: Learn how cities take action on september 12th, 10 AM. Make sure to register here and lock a timeslot in your agenda! 🙌

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