Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle project to provide information and raise awareness about food waste. The project is designed as a series of interviews with students from different countries to understand 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 globe, creating a uniquely multicultural environment.
Today we speak with Joana Shtereva from Bulgaria!
“Bulgaria aims to establish a National Platform on Food Loss and Waste, gathering all actors across the food supply chain and public authorities to cooperate voluntarily and help implement the national program.”
But first, Let’s add some context:
Bulgaria Sustainable Targets: Officially, based on the information on the UN SDGs website, Bulgaria’s last update on its plan regarding the SDGs is from 2020, and in it, it’s mentioned that all of the 17 goals are a part of Bulgaria’s target of achievement. However, in the same plan from 2020, it is noted that the National Development Programme BULGARIA 2030 will address three main strategic goals: demographic upswing, accelerated economic development, and reduction of inequalities.
The operational objectives of the national program are to:
establish a national database for food waste data;
support food production, processing, and distribution facilities to prevent and reduce food waste;
change consumer behavior and attitudes towards food;
implement food loss and waste prevention measures at all stages of the food supply chain;
improve the redistribution of surplus edible food for human consumption to people in need. 
Country’s Performance: From what I have seen and heard, Bulgaria isn’t performing too well on the SDG targets. It has been struggling quite a bit due to the issues within its government. Also, not much is being presented or mentioned to the Bulgarian public about the SDGs, how to achieve them, what the country has signed and agreed to, etc. So if you are not a proactive citizen and don’t look things up yourself, the chances of knowing what is happening are meager.
Bulgaria’s engagement with the OECD has also encompassed participation in OECD bodies and legal instruments. Bulgaria was among the first non-OECD Members to accede to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions in 1999. In 2016, Bulgaria accepted the OECD invitation to participate in the G20/OECD Project on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting of the Committee on Fiscal Affairs. In taxation, Bulgaria is a member of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes. Bulgaria has joined the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, the Multilateral Agreement on Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, and signed the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. Bulgaria also participates in other bodies and instruments and is part of (or has outstanding requests for participation in) the bodies and mechanisms of the OECD Framework for the Consideration of Prospective Members. 
Hello, Joana! Thank you for participating in the interview. Before we start, could you please briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Joana, I’m 22 years old, and I come from Bulgaria. I have been living in the Netherlands since 2018, and I’m just about to graduate in the next month from my study in Global Project & Change Management at Windesheim. My program focuses a lot on Sustainability, so I have done a lot of projects about different aspects of the SDGs.
Can you help give some background about the attitude to food waste and sustainability in Bulgaria?
When it comes to food waste – there is a lot. People buy a lot, throw out a lot, and there aren’t any bio-waste bins around or companies that would promote how to use your bio-waste at home. Usually, people in villages or smaller cities – where they already know about composting and farming would use food waste. However, people in the big cities are not phased by what happens with food waste or sustainability. Sustainability only started being a more current topic in the last couple of years, but it still is very vague to most Bulgarians, so not much is done about it.
In your opinion, what challenges does Bulgaria face concerning the country’s sustainable development targets?
Bulgaria faces a lot of challenges in its government. Which majorly impacts everyone in the country. That is also why there isn’t much done regarding the SDG targets. Furthermore, the previous ruling parties in the government did not show much interest in working towards achieving said goals.
What can we learn from the Bulgarian people? Could you please tell us about their values, habits, or recipes that we could adapt and learn from to reduce food waste?
Some people are more environmentally aware and want to raise awareness about sustainability. There are quite a few student initiatives on cleaning up trash in parks, mountains, etc. With time and popularity, I hope that such initiatives will inspire more people to participate in such good doing.
Usually, grandmothers and great-grandmothers have a lot of recipes that make use of the ingredients to a point where there isn’t much food waste left, or they would feed farm animals with it. But there aren’t any recipes that come to mind which would reduce food waste.
Do you know of any significant organizations that are tackling food waste? Who’s doing good work to tackle this problem? Who should we support and get involved with?
I have not been active in studying or looking into Sustainability in Bulgaria so that I might give the best and most accurate responses to these questions. However, to my knowledge, there aren’t any significant organizations tackling food waste. It would not come as a surprise that most organizations created by regular citizens of Bulgaria do much more about sustainability than the government does. Municipalities should be much more active and supportive in the fight to achieve the SDGs – by supporting local initiatives, listening to the needs of the citizens, actually taking action, and not just making empty promises.
Based on what we talked about reducing food waste, what’s the most frustrating thing to you about Food waste?
People don’t bring their bags for their groceries; they just grab 5-10 of the super-thin “single-use” plastic bags and stuff all their groceries there. That people buy so much and then throw so much food out. Also, even though fruits and vegetables don’t come already prepackaged in plastic, the groceries store just gives you a crazy amount of plastic bags to pack yourself.
It is also frustrating that there isn’t much being done about bio-waste. There are so many uses of food waste. People just need to learn about them, and municipalities need to organize bio-waste containers while also being responsible for using that food waste, not just letting it rot away.
Due to your perspective about reducing food waste worldwide, what do you recommend people do differently?
I would recommend that people be more proactive – to look for information themselves, read from different sources, try out new recipes, and new ideas on what to do with food waste or even how to lower your waste.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
These interviews are a great way to make the readers more aware of how things regarding Food Waste & Sustainability are around the world and to spark an interest in them to exchange ideas and work together.
“Thanks so much for your time and participation!”
That was a conversation with Joana from our CryptED team at Sapient.
Interviewed: Joana Shtereva
Interviewer and Writer: Majid Zamanshoar
Bulgaria NGOs and Nonprofits
Read our other blogs:
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Download and use food waste apps
Download the international “Too good to go”
UN SDGs Bulgaria. (n.d.). Voluntary National Review 2020, [online] Available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/memberstates/bulgaria
The OECD and Southeast Europe: Bulgaria, [online] Available at: Economies - The OECD and South East Europe
EU Food Loss and Waste Prevention Hub: Bulgaria, [online] Available at: European Food Loss and Waste Prevention Hub (europa.eu)