Food Waste Around the World, Episode 33: Kazakhstan

Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle’s 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 Adina Maikenova from Kazakhstan!




“The introduction of sustainable lifestyles has taken roots in the country quite recently. Therefore, the concept of tackling food waste is in its infancy.”

Hello Adina! Welcome, and thank you for participating in the project ‘Food Waste Around the World’. Before we start, could you tell me about yourself and where you are from?


My name is Adina Maikenova. I am from Kazakhstan, Almaty. After my graduation, I have decided to continue studying and I’m getting my master’s degree in Latvia, Riga. Currently, I’m pursuing my internship in the role of Social Media Coordinator at Food Circle.


Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about the situation of food waste in Kazakhstan. How do you perceive the emergency of action against food waste in Kazakhstan?


Kazakhstan has recently started to be conscious of the environment. The introduction of sustainable lifestyles has taken roots in the country quite recently. Therefore, the concept of tackling food waste is in its infancy. Unfortunately, till now there are no measures regulating food waste in the country. Cafes and restaurants decide independently what to do with the leftover food. And it is also difficult to say exactly how much - this information is usually kept confidential by restaurateurs. Surplus food remains in supermarkets as well. For example, in one store network, only half a percent of food products that have expired are sent for recycling every month. These are mainly vegetables, fruits, and dairy products.


That is very interesting yet also alarming to hear. Did the situation in your country influence you in any way to join an organization like Food Circle?


Yes, sure. One of the reasons why I chose Food Circle is the opportunity to learn more about sustainable lifestyles, in order to be able to slowly introduce this knowledge into daily life. I can say that Kazakhstan is actively developing and people are becoming more aware and worried about the future of our planet. There are more and more eco-activists and volunteer organizations that educate people on existing eco-problems.



That’s great. Are there any initiatives in Kazakhstan trying to tackle food waste?


In Kazakhstan, 5-15% of unsold desserts remain in coffee houses after closing. Most coffee houses and bakeries in our country sell dishes prepared during the day with discounts of up to 20% in the evening. However, apart from regular customers, only a few people know about such promotions.

Social media has also become a key place as a food-sharing platform. For example, in 2016 a group called "Food Sharing, or I Will Give Food, Products for Free" was launched on Facebook, but now the project is inactive.


What do you think, how are people thinking about the urgency of reducing food waste?


As you can understand, there are attempts to prevent food waste, but it’s not as popular as it could be. So far, there is no established position regarding excessive and unreasonable consumption and there is no social force to develop the food sharing movement. But I think Kazakhstan is developing and needs time. Just the other day, I found a shop near my workplace that’s working towards achieving zero waste. There you can buy products without packaging. I already see a positive movement in this direction, especially the younger generation trying to implement conscious consumption.


Thank you for your time, Adina, and for participating in this interview. You did an amazing job with the research for this. Good luck!


Interviewer: Annikki Kaiser

Interviewed: Adina Maikenova

Editor and Writer: Ankita Parida


References

FAO. (n.d.). Food Losses and Waste in Kazakhstan. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/reu/europe/documents/FLW/FLW_assessment_Kazakstan.pdf

Kazakhstan oilfield diverts 255 tonnes of food waste from landfill through composting. (n.d.). Tidy Planet. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://tidyplanet.co.uk/kazakhstan-oilfield-diverts-255-tonnes-of-food-waste-from-landfill-through-composting/

Khaidar, A. (2018, October 6). Kazakhstan to ban plastic, paper and glass burying by 2019, construction and food waste by 2021. The Astana Times. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://astanatimes.com/2018/10/kazakhstan-to-ban-plastic-paper-and-glass-burying-by-2019-construction-and-food-waste-by-2021/


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