The Netherlands is keeping food waste on the agenda with the announcement of a new collective named ‘Together against food waste’, set up to help the country cut its food waste in half by 2030 in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Driven by the headline figure that six per cent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions come from food waste, the group brings together 25 members from across industry, academia and government to form aCircular Economy in Food Taskforce, using collaboration to create solutions to the food waste crisis.
Members of the new group include: McDonald’s; Rabobank; the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality; Albert Heijn, the largest Dutch supermarket chain; cleantech waste management company Milgro; and Wageningen University & Research, a research centre specialising in sustainable food chains.
A promotional video states that the group wants to ‘create a marketplace for leftover food’ and ‘turn crooked vegetables into wonderful products’. With €7 million (£6.2 million) of funding coming from the Dutch government over the next four years, ‘Together against food waste’ will be creating educational campaigns and a monitoring system to measure its impact on levels of food waste, as well as working towards further circular economy legislation.
Another focus of the group will be the development of innovative solutions to reduce food waste. One such innovation to come out of the Netherlands in recent years is an app from social enterprise NoFoodWasted, which tells users which stores in their area are offering discounted prices on food near its expiration date.
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A pilot study conducted from September 2015 to May 2015 saw food waste cut by up to 18 per cent across 22 Dutch supermarkets, and the app – called Afgeprijsd, or Discounted – is now used by around 20,000 people in the Netherlands. The company hopes to expand into Germany, Belgium and the UK.
Speaking on the launch of ‘Together against food waste’, Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Carola Schouten said: “Huge amounts of food are being wasted. This is especially serious when you consider how widespread poverty remains around the world, even in the Netherlands.
“There are opportunities in this process for many new and innovative ideas and initiatives. Less waste would also allow a significant reduction in CO2 emissions while saving money. In short, it would be good for the environment as well as the finances.”
Toine Timmermans, programme manager of Sustainable Food Chains at Wageningen University & Research, added: “The members of the Taskforce have worked hard over the past year to make the joint ambition and approach more concrete…The Taskforce shows that if we build together, with companies at the helm, it is possible to develop an ecosystem of solutions that will have a positive economic, ecological and social impact for the transition to a better and more circular food system.”