The food waste battle has begun!

Posted on 19 January 2017.

Worldwide, nearly 40% of all food is discarded before it can be eaten. From food sharing to the gleaning network, collaborative social initiatives are putting the freeze on food waste.

Every year, 1.3 billion tonnes of food are dumped around the world. In France alone, food waste is estimated at 15 million tonnes per year - nearly 280 kg per person!

At the restaurant or in the supermarket, unsold have become profitable. With 700,000 tons of food that en up in the trash, the Danish win the title of champion in food waste.

As a result, the DanChurchAid association opened an alternative supermarket in Copenhagen - WeFood only offers products past their expiry date or with damaged packaging.

In London and in Paris restaurants that go through the garbage are extremely successful. In Hackney the Save the Date Cafe operates a pay what you feel system – you give them whatever you think is fair - and it uses upcycled ingredients sourced from the surrounding area.

In France, the participatory canteen Freegan Pony cooks unsold produce from the Rungis market. And a stone’s throw away in the ninth arrondissement of Paris, the locavore restaurant Simone Lemon uses only fruit and vegetables that are weirdly shaped or too ugly for the consumer's plate.

Gleaning network and disco balls

Made more and more aware of the 41,2kg of food thrown every second in the world, groups and associations that go through trash cans have sprung up everywhere. Under the food sharing banner, and thanks to a structured network of donors and beneficiaries, the Lebensmittelretter - food saving volunteers – have extracted over 3,000 tonnes of food from dumpsters in Germany in just four years.

In France, the Gars’pilleurs target supermarket garbage and then distribute the fruit of their harvest. In the United Kingdom, Feeding the 5,000 led by Tristam Stuart organizes a giant banquet for 5,000 people every year in Trafalgar Square. The initiative has been duplicated in Paris, Berlin, Bristol...

Feeding the 5,000 also started the Gleaning Network, which is now spreading all over the world. The principle is simple - volunteers collect unsold produce from local farms and redistribute it to food charities.

Hunting down waste can also be fun. Inspired by the Berlin Schnippel Disko concept, Disco Soupe offers Disco Buffets in over 25 countries. Driven by the global Slow Food Youth Network, this open source movement aims to change food production and consumption habits.

With a rallying cry of “Yes we cut”, participants collect unsold fruit and vegetables from the the fields, markets and supermarkets for an open event peeling and preparing soup against a backdrop of live music.

Unsold produce is a thing of the past thanks to smartphones

Wasting less is something everyone can do with the help of free apps. The most recent, Too Good To Go connects shops with their customers who get to know about any perishable products not sold during the day by just glancing at their smartphones.

With OptiMiam, you are notified by a push whenever you are near stores offering promotions in your neighborhood. And Zéro-Gâchis displays end cap promos. With geolocation, and dedicated signage, it points you and your shopping trolley in the right direction. With more than 70 partners throughout France, it has already "saved" more than 315 tonnes of food.

Find out more:

- Nothing is put in the trash, everything is cooked
- Unsold food on the menu
- Silk prevents food wastage
- The town of Pécs in Hungary is heated with straw!
- 100% tomato electricity
- Sustainably delicious!
- Regina Tchelly or the art of preparing leftovers
- Food Sharing
- It is possible to shop without all the packaging