Food waste – and what you can do to prevent it

Foodwaste.ch and the Kanton Zürich have published together the report “No Waste, let’s taste”. In this article you will find the most important facts, figures, and advice on how to prevent food waste.

Food waste in Switzerland

The term food waste refers to food that is wasted, although it is fit for human consumption. Inedible parts, such as bones, are not food waste. Neither is food that is used for bio fuel or for animals.

About a third of all edible food in Switzerland goes to waste. All in all, this amounts to 2.5 billion kilograms per year. These food products are wasted at different stages during their journey from field to stomach.

  • Discarded fruit and vegetables: They are either too big, too small, or are shaped unusually.
  • Surplus of production
  • Losses while transporting food. There is food waste if the packaging is damaged or the food spoils during transportation.
  • Food that is not sold prior to its expiration date in the shops
  • Leftovers in restaurants or with caterers.
  • Food waste in private households.

Nearly half of all food waste in Switzerland—45 percent—is produced in private households. Together, we can make a great difference! With some easy tips, you can prevent food waste.

Advice for grocery shopping

  • Have a look at what is in your fridge and write a shopping list. You will only buy what you really need this way.
  • Choose bulk items. There is more than one advantage to bulk. You reduce your packaging and you will only buy as much as you can eat.
  • Choose regional and seasonal products. That way you reduce the need for long-distance transportation of goods. This does not only reduce your carbon footprint, but it will also generate less food waste. And: if you buy from farmers in your vicinity, you always know where your food comes from.
  • Buy fresh products on sale: they will most probably be disposed of the next day.

Tips for consuming

  • Nose to tail: Meat uses lots of resources. Then why should we only eat the filet? With a good recipe, there are tasty scraps waiting.
  • Leaf to root: There are lots of plants that you can eat leaf to root. If you grate your vegetables, there is no need to peel them. And, for example you can cook radish greens as if it were spinach: put it in your salad or into a smoothie.
  • Leftover menus: Did you cook too much? No worries, just pack your leftovers for lunch. Or you can create a whole new menu with them – don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • Trust your senses: “Best before” dates are mostly here because of legal regulations. A passed expiration date does not mean the food is spoiled. Your senses can tell you if food is spoiled, trust them! Is there mold? Has the taste or smell changed? If you can answer these questions with “no” the food should still be safe.

Tips for storage

  • Store it where you can see it: You will most probably not waste any food you can see every day. So store your newly-purchased groceries behind the older ones. After your next shopping trip, they will move forward. With this technique you will no longer forget any food in the back of your fridge.
  • Store it correctly: You can prevent food waste by storing your food the right way. Store them in airtight containers or bags and at the right temperature. Foodwaste.ch has more advice for storing different groceries.
  • Freeze: freeze food early on. Did you know that you can use glass containers for freezing your food? Just make sure that you leave some extra space in them.
  • Conserve: There are many ways to conserve food. You can dry leftover vegetables and herbs or make tasty sauces with them. With fruit you can create nice juices, syrups or jam.

Do you still have some food waste that you could not prevent? By composting this you turn it into precious new nutrients.

You can find more information and advice on www.foodwaste.ch.

Have you got too much food at home? You can share your food with others on foodsharingschweiz.ch. Together we prevent food from being wasted.