Analysis of research on direct measurement of food waste in households in Belgrade, and the attitudes and habits of citizens.
Each of us, on average, throws 27.7 kg of edible and 80.4 kg of inedible parts of food a year, showed the analysis of research on direct measurement of food waste in households in Belgrade, as well as the attitudes and habits of citizens on this issue, which was published by the Environment Improvement Center.
"Observed annually, the inhabitants of the capital throw away more than 165 thousand tons of edible and inedible parts of food. When it comes to edible parts of food, vegetables (10.2 kg), fruits (8.5 kg), bread (4.7 kg), meat (3.6 kg), and dairy products (0.7 kg) are thrown away the most", said professor Bojan Batinic, PhD, from the Center of Excellence for Circular Economy and Climate Change, who analyzed the results of direct measurements.
The City of Belgrade has adopted the Action Plan for Municipal Waste Management for the period 2021-2030, in which food waste is recognized as one of the waste streams, which provides a basis for further creation and improvement of measures to address this problem at the local level"- said Mr Radojicic, Mayor of Belgrade, and added that this is a very important topic, which should be discussed further. "We often throw food automatically and we are not aware of how much we waste. That is why at a time when we have so many hungry people on Earth, this is a moral and ethical issue. At the same time, throwing away food means an irrational attitude towards the planet and its resources, towards the future and new generations."
"Annually 770,000 tons of food is wasted or lost in Serbia, 90% of the total waste still ends up in the landfills, emitting GHG, polluting water resources, while the poorest households struggle to secure meals. The United Nations has been active on this topic for several years through food banks. Today once again, jointly with the UN environment programme and the city of Belgrade, we want to raise awareness and call for action from all state actors and citizens on this important topic. We need new legislation and regulation, a dedicated focus on food waste within Belgrade new waste management plan, commitment from the hospitality sector, and the promotion of sustainable consumption for all. Building forward better in the post pandemic world!"- said Françoise Jacob, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia.
"The corona virus pandemic has had a positive effect on this bad habit. Thus, every fourth respondent has started throwing less food since the pandemic. In contrast to such a significant percentage, we have 3.1% of respondents who started throwing food noticeably more. However, in general, it can be noticed that a large part of the society has awareness and habits that help reduce food waste, but that percentage is still not at a satisfactory level. There are patterns of how certain demographic groups behave, and that will serve as a basis for further development of information and educational programs aimed at reducing the amount of food wasted." said Vladan Scekic from the Environment Improvement Center.
More than half (52.9%) of households throw away edible parts of food less than once a week. On the other hand, we also have 2.5% of respondents in whose households throwing away food is a daily practice.
Four circumstances usually influence the food to be thrown away in the end. In almost half of the households, food is thrown away because too much has been cooked and leftovers have accumulated. In slightly fewer cases, food is thrown away because it has spoiled (44.6%), because of the expiration date of food items (40.2%), and because it has been forgotten in the refrigerator / freezer (17.3%).
Over 70% of the respondents unequivocally expressed their readiness to separate food waste, if there would be an appropriate systemic solution established.
It can be said that there is a general consensus of the respondents that throwing away edible parts of food is a big social problem, so that only 2.3% of the respondents do not agree with that attitude. In addition, more than 90% of respondents agree that food waste is a major environmental problem. Approximately every tenth respondent admitted that he did not care about the amount of edible parts of food he threw away. An even higher percentage of respondents (14.5%) state that they do not show concern about the price of the food they throw away. Finally, 7.6% of respondents believe that nothing can move them in the direction to waste less food. When asked about the motivation for less food waste, there was a significant number of respondents (8.5%) who do not have an opinion about it.
It is encouraging that almost two thirds of the respondents claim that if they had information on how to store food the best way, they would probably throw it away less. A slightly larger number of citizens (70.9%) agree that they would probably make an effort to throw less, if they had data on the impact of discarded food on the living environment. Finally, approximately the same percentage of respondents (68.8%) agree that they would probably make an effort to throw less if they had an insight into the price of discarded food.
Research findings show that it is necessary for citizens to be instructed as much as possible and as thoroughly as possible in the issue of food waste. There is a lot of room to improve knowledge, as well as to encourage citizens to act in the direction of less food waste. In addition, it is necessary for state authorities to adopt regulations that will reduce food waste, and set up infrastructure for the separation of food waste, in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
These surveys were conducted in accordance with the methodology of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) for measuring the global food waste index and will be the baseline for all future research in this area. A survey on citizens' attitudes and habits was conducted in the first half of June on a representative sample of 1,003 respondents, while a survey on direct measurement of discarded food was conducted on a sample of 100 households in Belgrade, during September 2021. The research was conducted with the support of the United Nations Environment Program.