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Food Waste Around the World, Episode 6: Turkey

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 amade 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 Ceyda from Turkey!

“Teenagers are becoming more aware of the [food waste] situation day by day. Also, most of the elderly people have a sense of understanding of this issue as well. “


Hello Ceyda. Welcome to this interview and thank you for participating in the project Food Waste Around The World. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and where are you from?

Hi, my name is Ceyda, I'm from Turkey, Eskisehir. I've been living in Istanbul for most of my life and I've been living in Eskisehir since my first year of High School. I'm currently studying Business Administration and I did my Erasmus in Rotterdam. I've been involved with food waste and environmental issues more than ever since I started working as a Project Coordinator at Sapient.

Very interesting! How is the food waste situation in Turkey? Is it a big issue?

According to my research, there are approximately 2 billion tons of bread waste and 26 million tons of food waste every year, which is worth 214 billion Turkish liras in total (around 32 million dollars). I believe food waste mostly comes from the hotel and restaurant industry in Turkey. In those hotels, open-buffets are highly popular and food is brought to the customers in obnoxious quantities as far as 5 kgs per person, whereas a daily calorie consumption of an average person is not more than approximately 2000 calories. On top of that, some restaurants fail to recycle and distribute the food that's been left on that day due to the lack of supervision from the government, which of course adds to the situation.

Interesting, so this is the consumers’ level impact. But who do you think is driving the awareness on the food waste issue? Is it the government or are there any NGOs or small communities interested in the topic?

As I know, there are plenty of small non-governmental organizations but I found that the most recent, the biggest one is a project called ‘Save Your Food’. It's a project by Turkey’s Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). They're taking action to prevent food waste, and they’re doing a pretty good job. I found out that it's saving 1 million loaves of bread daily and 2.8 billion Turkish Liras annually, which is $400 million. And “orange flags” are given to the businesses that are preventing food waste, and they're added to the website to support them in the future, which is, I believe, is a great technique, and a really good project. More corporations or businesses are encouraged to join this project and contests are being held on this website as well. I think it's a great opportunity to educate more people.

I think so. Who do you think is more aware of the food waste issue? Younger or older people?

I definitely think teenagers are becoming more aware of the situation day by day. Also, most of the elderly people have a sense of understanding of this issue as well. So I think that's good, but overall, I think we should definitely know more.

You said that you have been living in Rotterdam, could you notice any differences in what you see in your country compared to the Netherlands according to the food waste issue?

I think Turkish people have a way with food that is similar to Dutch people in a sense. In Turkey, little kids are being taught that wasting food is frowned upon and a lot of Turkish people don't like to throw away food most of the time. I remember my mom telling me to finish my plate a lot of times in my life. On top of that, we are known for our food around the world. We have so many different recipes for stale ingredients and I think that is a really positive contribution to the matter. It’s almost embedded in our culture to not waste any food. On the other hand, Dutch people prefer to eat only as much as they like and have significant measures against food waste and recycling. So I believe that we have similarities as well as sociocultural differences. If recycling could be made a priority, which I sadly don't think it is at the moment, I'm sure Turkey will make much more progress about the impact on our environment and food waste.

That’s a good thing. Do you think that the government will do more in the future, or is it already a priority in their agenda in any way?

I believe that the Turkish government should do more. I think they will do more in the future. But as of now, I don't think they treat this issue as a priority. And as a citizen, I just hope that this issue is reduced in the future and more recycling is done. More good waste prevention has gone around our country, and I will make sure to take action to participate in that matter as well.

At last, do you think the organizations in Turkey will do more or they will take other steps according to the food waste issue?

I think, for Turkey, strict government regulations are highly needed as well as more communities that educate people. The education given in our curriculum is just as important as the communities and organizations that bring light into the situation. And new regulations will definitely have more power over the communities. I also think more screen time is needed for the small NGO's to actually make a radical change.

Okay. Very interesting. Thank you very much.

Thank you so much for having me!


Interviewer: Andrea Di Bernardo

Interviewed: Ceyda Gezbic

Editor and writer: Andrea Di Bernardo

Organization mentioned in the interview:

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