Large amount of food waste transported to dumping sites

Large amount of food waste was transported to dumping sites in the Western Province in the year 2018/19, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today.

On 29th September 2020, the world’s first annual “International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste” is observed.

This day highlights the importance of minimizing food waste and presents a call to action to everyone along supply chains right down to the consumers.

During this time, when Sri Lanka’s efforts to counteract bio-waste pollution and landfilling are being emphasized, in the year 2018/19, 50-60% of the total solid waste transported in the Western Province, to the three dumping sites in Kaduwela, Karadiyana and Kerawalapitiya by 20 local authorities, was food waste.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) highlights that prevention of food waste is key because it preserves food at the highest socio-economic and environmental value for producers, processors, distributors, and households.

FAO says prevention and reduction of food waste, from wholesale to households, can support food access for all, especially those most vulnerable in the face of food insecurity and climate change.

State and Private Sector collaborations and partnerships are vital for successful food waste prevention and reduction actions through investments in infrastructure, better food packaging and portioning, and enhanced knowledge on the impact of one’s food choices on health, the environment, and the economy, FAO added.

“By cutting back on food waste, we save money on food not purchased to be thrown out by consumers, labour and resources such as water and energy to be consumed in vain by producers and plastic packaging to be landfilled by retailers, to name a few. To achieve this, we all need to adopt the mind-set and behavioural changes and follow up with concrete action,” FAO said.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, supported by FAO and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), has launched a project on “innovative approaches to reduce, recycle and reuse food waste in urban areas” aiming towards:

• Raising Awareness on the impact of and solutions for food waste. Enabling stakeholders’ consultations through face-to-face or digital meetings;

• Collaboration and Co-ordination of stakeholders for food waste data collection in 10 urban areas and estimates of its socio-economic and environmental impacts. A multidisciplinary team, including academia, are conducting in-depth research to identify knowledge gaps and innovative solutions;

• Drafting an evidence-based Urban Strategy and Roadmap on Food Waste Prevention, Reduction, and Management in Sri Lanka, for which consultations with the public sector, the private sector, and civil society are being held.

FAO says the food crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the fragility of the food systems.

According to the FAO, reducing food waste can bring about benefits to society as a whole and can result in:

• increased food availability to the most vulnerable

• a reduction in the emissions of Green House Gases (GHG)

• reduced pressure on land and water resources

• increased productivity and economic growth

As a run up to the 2020 “International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste”, the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, together with the FAO and IWMI, conducted three digital consultations on food waste prevention and reduction for universities,  food services, and  retailers/supermarkets. One more digital workshop is planned for schools in October 2020. (Colombo Gazette)