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Where are we in Italy with food waste and what can we do to improve

Try doing some mental gymnastics. Imagine taking a bag of cookies, chips, pretzels or sweets every day. In short, one serving of your favorite breakfast. Welcome. Take one a day, don’t even open it and throw it straight in the trash. If that seems absurd to you, know it this is exactly what you do (what we do) every day of our lives.

75 grams of food: this is the amount each of us loses each day, for a total of 524.1 g per week and 27,253 kg per year. Reminding us that we still have a lot of work to do to improve a situation that is in many ways unsustainable and anachronistic, is Waste Watcher International Observatory for Food and Sustainabilitywho went to look at our dustbins on the occasion of the eleventh National Food Waste Prevention Daywhich happens on February 5th.

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If something is being done (the data tells us that we lose 12% less than last year, when the grams per capita thrown into the garbage was 595.3) is probably due to a greater and wider awareness and especially thanks to the attention of the new generations, who continue to be much more sensitive than the previous ones to the environment and sustainable issues. As proof of this there is one significant fact: the biggest losers, says the Observatory, are families without children (actually 38% more than those who have them). Maybe boys and girls really do matter, even in domestic consciousness. The problem, however, is that the problem remains, and only through its detailed analysis can solutions be devised to avoid what is one of the social plagues of our time.

What we throw away

For example, knowing what we lose: Above all fruit (3.4 grams per person per day), bread and vegetables end up in the bin. Therefore, the problem seems to be not so much in perishability (even animal proteins must surely be consumed quickly), but rather in eating habits or the value (not only economic) we attach to products: throwing away an apple seems like a small gesture to us , while no one would think to throw a steak in the bin. And in fact the data says just that, ie the meat supply chain appears to be among the “most virtuous” in this sense: totaling the leftovers from the food brought to the table and the food thrown away because it has expired or spoiled, the total waste of meat and fish reaches only 5% of the weight of the total waste of a family. The results were confirmed by a recent publication by the CREA Food Waste Observatory, which reports household waste from meat alone is estimated at 11 grams per week per family (3% of average waste).

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How much is what we throw away costing us?

«Food waste in our homes alone has a total value of 6.48 billion eurosin light of January 2023 data,” he explains Andrea Segre, Scientific Director Waste Watcher International, who in the past had already pointed out the paradox of a society that throws away food when in Italy there are about six million people who are in poverty. “A figure that increases if we also take into account the energy value of wasted food: compared to 2022, it costs 5.151 billion euros and would thus bring the economic cost of food waste in Italy to 11.63 billion euros.”

How (and how much) to improve

The room for improvement, despite the progress made compared to previous years, is still very large. Especially considering that the time we have to solve problems of this kind is short, considering that they have a huge impact on the environment (according to the United Nations Environment Programme, Food waste causes approximately 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions).

The institutions also know it, and it is no accident that the European Union gave it to us a series of goals on the subject to be achieved by 2030. In particular, it requires us to reduce waste in catering and food retail by 30%. Because if it is true that good household habits can make a difference, it is equally true that at Ho.Re.Ca. that the problem becomes bigger as volumes.

Initiatives for less waste

The key, as always, is there greater awareness of the subjectto. In this sense, the many initiatives – private or institutional – aimed at increasing the awareness of the population against food waste help. The app It’s too good to gofor example, by linking the demand to the supply of food at the end of its shelf life, it has “saved” over six million meals from the garbage (about twelve per minute), with an average monthly growth of 14% compared to 2022.

Then there is Waste Zero, born in 2010, which is the only permanent awareness campaign in Italy on the subject of food waste. Popularized by Last minute market (which he also adheres to Masterchef Italy, donating all excess food after the episodes) and created in close partnership with the Ministry of the Environment, Zero Waste is the starting point for initiatives, information and activities related to the fight against food waste. For example, on the campaign site you can find all the events (not only to raise awareness, but also specifically to recover raw materials) organized in Italy for National Food Waste Prevention Day.

Source: VanityFair

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