Food Waste Around the World, Episode 34: Germany
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 uniquely multicultural environment.
Today we speak with Annikki from Germany!
"In 2019 a National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction was introduced to the public. By 2030 the food waste per capita is planned to be reduced by half. [...] It is to be seen in the coming years whether this will work but I have doubts. The awareness is not nearly where we need it, let alone the action taken."
Hello Annikki. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with us! First things first, would you mind introducing yourself shortly?
Yes, gladly. I am from Germany and studying Social Sciences. To finish my Bachelor's degree, I used the opportunity to start this internship at Food Circle as a Content Writer.
What do you think about the food waste situation in Germany?
The amount of food waste Germany produces is way too high and not nearly enough tackled. Germany throws away about 12 million tons of the generated food, the WWF even estimates 18 million tons. Every single minute about 19 tons of food are thrown away- 19 tons! This means 48 million tons of greenhouse gas that is produced annually just because of the food we waste.
Where do you see the potential to improve and where could others maybe learn from German regulations and measurements?
In 2019 a National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction was introduced to the public. By 2030 the food waste per capita is planned to be reduced by half. The measurements are tackling food waste on consumers’ side, as well as during supply’s and production’s. If this aim is realized, Germany will reduce greenhouse emissions by 6 million tons.
It is to be seen in the coming years whether this will work but I have doubts. The awareness is not nearly where we need it, let alone the action taken.
The Tafel system is one of the biggest voluntary non-profit organizations in Germany and has the potential to inspire and become even bigger. More than 940 Tafeln exist in Germany. The organization saves food that would otherwise be tossed in the bin and donates it to people in need, which are at the moment more than 1.6 million people. They solely rely on donations and get no public funding and yet managed to become this big. This is a huge success and sign, in my opinion. People are willing to act and support a system of saving food and donating it. Ideas like this reduce food waste, help to limit our harmful environmental impact, and reduce social inequalities.
For me, this is something that others could learn from and that we could further improve globally. Theoretically, no one needed to starve. However, people still do and we waste around 1.3 billion tons of food annually.
How did you become conscious about the food waste on our planet? Was it because of the German food waste situation?
I remember that we watched a documentary in school about food wastage. I saw a truck full of fresh and edible bread that was taken to a landfill. The statistics and pictures numbed me, especially being aware of poverty and many other social injustices that occur at the same time. From that moment, reducing packaging and food waste became one of my missions and heart projects. It was and still is just so unbelievable to me. It is avoidable and unnecessary. We do not need this much food. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that we humans apply beauty norms and ideals not only to us but also to food. Tons of perfectly edible vegetables and fruits don’t even get to the stores each day because they are not ‘pretty’ enough.
To conclude, conversations with friends and family, a lot of research, studying sociology and political science, as well as trying to live more sustainably were factors that made me more conscious, I would say.
Do you feel like it’s easy to reduce wastage of food in Germany and if so, how are you doing it? What would you wish for it to be easier?
It became easier but is not yet enough. We still don’t get access to a lot of the ‘ugly’ vegetables and fruits in stores and rarely reduce the waste during supply or production.
The awareness for the need of a more sustainable lifestyle increased. This can be observed on many levels like for example the growing number of zero-waste stores.
Living sustainably is often still the more expensive choice. I wish that this would change. Additionally, I would love to see more awareness about this issue.
Thank you very much for this interesting conversation. Let’s hope that the waste of generated food will further be reduced then. Enjoy your day!
Interviewer: Neha Tripathi
Interviewed: Lea Annikki Kaiser
Editor and Writer: Lea Annikki Kaiser
BML. (2019, May 23). Lebensmittelweitergabe an Tafeln per Knopfdruck über die App. Bundesministerium für Ernährung und Landwirtschaft. https://www.bmel.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2019/107-tafeln.html;jsessionid=B4F2007F5B404468A0CF92051741E808.live921
Die Tafeln - English information. (n.d.). Tafel Deutschland. Retrieved January 5, 2022, from https://www.tafel.de/english-information/
FAO. (n.d.). Food Loss and Food Waste. FAO. Retrieved January 5, 2022, from https://www.fao.org/food-loss-and-food-waste/flw-data)
Food waste in numbers. (n.d.). Too Good To Go. Retrieved January 5, 2022, from https://toogoodtogo.org/en/blog/food-waste-in-numbers
Food waste - National Strategy for Food Waste Reduction. (2021, February 5). BMEL. Retrieved January 5, 2022, from https://www.bmel.de/EN/topics/food-and-nutrition/food-waste/national-strategy-for-food-waste-reduction.html
Noleppa, S., & Cartsburg, M. (2015). das große Wegschmeissen. WWF.
Zu gut für die Tonne. (2021, March 25). Nationale Strategie zur Lebensmittelreduzierung. zugutfürdietonne.de. https://www.zugutfuerdietonne.de/strategie