Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle project aimed at providing information and raising awareness about food waste. The project is designed as a series of interviews with students coming from different countries, with the aim of understanding how this issue is tackled and perceived around the world. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which, every year, offers internships to students from all around the world creating a unique multicultural environment.
Today we speak with Anastasia from Russia!
“The education of young people, taking responsibility, raising awareness among the general public, and creating community-based and collaborative projects between different stakeholders will help a lot”.
Hello, Anastasia! Welcome and thank you for participating in this interview series Food Waste Around the World. To start, could you tell me a bit about yourself?
Hi! My name is Anastasia and I am from Russia. I studied Environmental Partnership Management at Aberdeen University in Scotland. I participated in environmental volunteering projects and had an internship in both Scotland and Italy, where I lived for eight months. Currently, I am based in Amsterdam for my internship at Sapient.
Very nice! Tell me about the food waste situation in Russia, is it a big issue?
Annually, around 17 million tonnes of food waste are produced in Russia where 94% is going to landfills since there are no facilities for food waste collection and processing. Additionally, most people are not aware of the existence of this problem, so I would say that it is a big issue.
I see. When living in Scotland, did you notice any difference in what you saw there compared to Russia?
In Russia, there is currently no system to tackle the issue. In Scotland, even though there is also a significant amount of food waste (around 1 million tonnes annually), it is better managed because there are many initiatives for waste reduction and recycling. For example, in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland, the Scottish government has developed a Climate Change Plan that includes a Food Waste Reduction Plan. Moreover, there are more facilities like the anaerobic digestion plants where microorganisms break down the matter and generate biogas. The biogas is then utilized in engines or as vehicle fuel.
That sounds very efficient! Going back to Russia, are there organizations, NGOs or communities taking action somehow?
I know about an NGO called Razdelniy Sbor which is raising awareness about the problem and provides information about home composters. It organizes campaigns against dumping food.
Prodovolstvennaya Rus is the first Russian food bank that helps poor families and retired people gain access to food that would otherwise be wasted. According to my research, there are no other organizations of significance.
Interesting. Who do you think is more aware of the food waste issue? Younger or older people?
The older generations, that were raised in poverty and scarcity in the USSR, are definitely inclined to avoid food waste. In contrast, young people get everything for granted.
Yes, usually older generations treat food as sacred. What about the government, is it taking action somehow against food waste? Will it become a priority in the government agenda?
A deputy from the party ‘United Russia’ proposed an initiative that by 2022 dumping food will be prohibited, but it is still just a proposal. I suppose that in the near future it will not be in the agenda.
Perhaps the population needs to take action. Lastly, what could be the next step taken from the population to tackle this issue?
From my perspective, the education of young people, taking responsibility, raising awareness among the general public, and creating community-based and collaborative projects between different stakeholders will help a lot. For instance, volunteers raising awareness about environmental problems at high schools in Italy make a huge impact. Such projects should exist everywhere. I hope that people will take a step towards dealing with food waste and facilitating a green future.
Yes, that would be great! It was very interesting speaking to you, Anastasia. Thank you very much!
Thank you for having me!
Interviewer: Andrea Di Bernardo
Interviewed: Anastasia Arkhipova
Editor and writer: Andrea Di Bernardo
Organizations mentioned in the interview: Razdelniy Sbon,