Fighting food waste, Scandinavian style
2nd June 2017 | Recycling
If there is something rotten in the state of Denmark, it isn’t its approach to food waste. Indeed, in the past five years alone, the country has successfully reduced its food waste output by more than 25%, equating to some 4.4bn tonnes. Britain has previously seen similar levels of reduction, but a report issued by WRAP in January this year showed that food waste in the UK had actually increased by 300,000 tonnes across 2016.
Five times smaller than the UK, Denmark is a little nation that packs a big punch when it comes to food waste management. Its impressive reduction in food waste is a direct result of government legislation, big business initiatives and behavioural change at a domestic level.
One Danish industry that has taken a particularly proactive approach to food waste management is the grocery retail sector. The industry is adopting hugely innovative schemes to curb food waste across the supply chain.
A fantastic example of this is Wefood, a store in Copenhagen that exclusively sells expired produce at discount prices. The prospect of food past its sell-by date proved so tasty for Danes that a second branch was opened last year, with punters regularly queuing out of the door to get their hands on budget stock that would have been otherwise destined for the bin.
Looser rules on the selling of edible-but-expired food, when compared to the UK, have significantly helped the existence of stores like Wefood. In Denmark, expired produce can be sold by retailers as long as it is clearly labelled and poses no risk to the health of the end consumer.
Here in the UK, we’ve seen supermarkets adopt similar strategies to curb waste across the sector. From Marks & Spencer’s pledge to redistribute edible surplus food to those in need to, ASDA’s wonky veg box scheme; there are plenty of positive signs that British retailers are taking their commitment to waste reduction seriously. With budget chains such as ALDI and Lidl recently posting record sales, a store like Wefood could prove incredibly popular with UK shoppers.
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