Unnecessary food waste is a huge problem all around the world and must be avoided if we are to preserve the value of food. Food processing in Sweden, for example, accounts for around 50 percent of our total eutrophication and 20–25 percent of our total climate impact.
Food waste is a big problem for the future of resource efficiency, but many actors are working on it. Bergendahls Food in Sweden which, among other things, is behind the City Gross chain, has succeeded in reducing its unnecessary food waste by 16 percent. The biggest investment, which has also provided the greatest sustainability effect, was the introduction of so-called skin pack where meat is packed using a tight-fitting plastic cover to make it last longer.
Judging by a study conducted by Origo Group and Svenska Ägg, people in general seem to be willing to change their food consumption habits to help improve resource efficiency. The study looked at whether Swedes are prepared to eat more hen meat, especially as a way of reducing unnecessary food waste. The study showed that a full 67 percent of Swedes already eat, or can consider eating hen meat. Today far too many hens are destroyed, or are not used higher up the value chain.
A research project at Chalmers University of Technology has received funding from VINNOVA to deliver an analysis of the status of current initiatives to save surplus food from grocery retail, produce a business model for restaurants who want to prepare meals from surplus food from grocery retail, and suggest joint solutions for logistics between restaurants and shops. One of the people behind this is chef Paul Svensson and another is Kristina Liljestrand of Chalmers Industriteknik, who has a PhD in logistics.
There is a lot of research and innovation around food packaging these days. Global recycling company Terracycle will launch a type of circular food shopping solution in spring 2019 called “Loop”. The ideal of Loop is for food to be delivered directly to customers in containers which, once the content is consumed, are saved, cleaned and re-used. The empty containers are sent back via Loop’s pick-up service. To get customers to save the containers they will pay a deposit on them. Loop will be tested for now in France and north-eastern USA. It is not clear yet when the service will come to Sweden, but Terracycle already has operations in here.