IWWG Task group on
Prevention of Food Waste
TG Leader: Peter J. Shaw
Food is an essential part of our life as it covers physiological (e.g. nutrient supply), social (such as identity or status), cultural (for instance taboo and values) and psychological (e.g. pleasure) functions. The supply of food for human consumption implicates numerous research activities (such as biotechnology and food safety) and considerable efforts in production (e.g. manpower, energy, soil, water, knowledge), processing (energy, knowledge, packaging), distribution (mainly energy) and trade (stockyard, energy). Indeed, food represents one of the most demanding products from a point of view of energy and resources. Moreover, food supply chain frequently features as a central theme in connection with ethics as well as social and environmental responsibility - as is the case with hunger, Fair Trade and organic food issues.
Nevertheless a large quantity of still edible food is disposed of during all stages of production, processing, distribution and usage. A part is still suitable for human consumption such as surpluses from agriculture, processing and trade, surplus cooked meals from hospitality sector or food which is disposed of with unopened packaging or only partly used food (e.g. half loaf of bread) at household level. In addition to the social and ethical issues as well as economic value involved in the wastage of edible food, considerable efforts are required in the correct handling of food residues in waste management. A huge amount of food waste is directly landfilled worldwide and converted into methane due to the conditions present. Thus, high quality food produced through use of various resources in compliance with strict legal restrictions continues to contribute towards global climate change even at the end of life.
Typically, when dealing with food waste particular emphasis is focused on technical solutions regarding waste treatment such as separate collection, anaerobic digestion or composting. In contrast, the focus of the IWWG task group is the prevention of food waste throughout the food supply chain. Therefore besides some technical aspects, particularly environmental, behavioral, psychological, economic, political and social viewpoints with regard to food waste are considered and represented by the international members of the group.
History of the Task Group
The demand for an international working group on food waste prevention was first declared at a workshop held at the Sardinia Symposium in 2009 and was supported by experiences from several previous as well as further meetings (e.g. Climate Smart Food Conference in Lund, Sardinia 2005 & 2007). At Venice Conference 2010, the IWWG managing board introduced the new task group on “Prevention of Food Waste”. Felicitas Schneider from BOKU University Vienna was appointed to chair the task group. The first meeting of the new task group was held at Sardinia Conference 2011 (Thirteenth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium, 3-7 October 2011 S. Margherita di Pula (Cagliari), Italy). Since then, the task group organised several workshops at Sardinia Symposium and the members runs various national and international projects on the topic. The joint experiences are collected within the task group to further develop the issue of prevention of food waste on an international basis.
Aims of the Task Group
Although data on the amount and composition of wasted food, reasons, effective prevention measures, impact factors on wastage, regional and socio-economic differences, environmental impact or future trends are published more often in the recent years, the comparability and applicability of those information is still scarce. Thus, the aims of the task group are:
- to work on and support initiatives developing harmonised definitions, methods and approaches in the field of food waste and prevention including characterisation of food waste
- to accelerate the international and interdisciplinary exchange of results of both research activities and implementation experiences
- to provide a forum for discussion and ideas as well as the generation of hypotheses to foster further implementations and research outcomes,
- to increase awareness with respect to wastage of food outside the task group by addressing stakeholders along the food supply chain, politics and society, as well as
- to initiate cooperation between the task group members with respect to research and implementation of food waste prevention measures.
Potentially, this approach leads to a substantiated estimation of worldwide wastage of food and the consequential impacts on world´s society, economy and environment as well as to effective prevention measures.
Members in alphabetical order:
Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Leiden Institute for Area Studies, SAS Japan, Leiden University
DTU Denmark, Department of Environmental Engineering (Residual Resources Engineering)
Harokopio University, Department of Geography
Mepex Consult AS, Norway
University of Southampton, School of Civil Engineering and the Environment, UK
Wong Jonathan W.C.
Hong Kong Baptist University, Department of Biology
Contact and TG Leader
A report about the workshop “Definitions of Food Waste” held at Sardinia Symposium 2011 can be found in Waste Management 32 (2012) 352–356.
At Sardinia Symposium 2013 a workshop "FOOD WASTE AND SOCIAL IMPACTS" was held on Monday, September 30th, 2013 from 18:00 to 19:40. A summary was published within the “News & Views” section of Waste Management 34 (2014) 566–569.
A session on food waste was scheduled on Monday, May 19th, 2014 from 11:10 - 12:50 at the Symposium Urban Mining 2014 in Bergamo. You can find the joint paper "Food Waste - from end of pipe solutions to prevention" from our task group members Frode Syversen, Felicitas Schneider and Vincent Edjabou within the proceedings of SUM!
The next personal meeting of the group members is scheduled for Sardinia Symposium 2015. In the meanwhile the regular communication process is ongoing by using conference tools via internet.
Please be aware of the Food Waste related activities at the International Conference on Solid Waste 2015 in Hong Kong scheduled for May 2015 (link https://arcpe.hkbu.edu.hk/conf2015/) as well as at Sardinia Symposium 2015 (link http://www.sardiniasymposium.it/) scheduled for October 2015!