The study carried out for the Ministry of the Environment shows that around one third of the food thrown away in Estonian households is a loss of food or wasted food which could be avoided by better planning.
"Food waste has been considered mostly a problem of richer countries, but this study shows that though Estonians have a smaller income and consumption capacity, Estonia's indicators in this area are not far behind of the more developed countries. Quantity of the wasted food per household is not huge, but it equals up to around € 120 per year," says Harri Moora, senior expert of SEI Tallinn. "Thus we may generalize that every year Estonian households throw away € 63 million worth of food."
Waste from ready-to-eat foodstuffs gets thrown away the most often, mainly because it has got spoilt. "Decrease of food wastes in households may not be obtained overnight as it depends on people's habits. Good planning may certainly be of assistance here – drawing up a weekly menu and a shopping list, but also increased awareness of the possibilities of cooking. Hardened black bread is not a waste, it may still be very successfully used in cooking," explained Peeter Eek, director of the Waste Department of the Ministry of the Environment.
In addition to households, catering facilities and establishments, for example the caterers of kindergartens, schools and hospitals as well as restaurants, bars, cafés etc. were also focused on during the study. The study results suggest that emergence of the food wastes and losses of food as well as the reasons for it, depend on the type of catering facility, though in a great majority of the catering facilities taking part in the study, the weight of the losses of food was relatively high, making up to 60% of the emerged food wastes. This shows that Estonian catering facilities have a potential as well as a need for decreasing the levels of food wastes and losses of food.
The subject of food wastes, including wasting food or losses of food is becoming increasingly important on the worldly scale. Around a third of the food produced in the world is being waster or not used. Because of the food wastes other resources like land, water, energy and manpower, are also vastly wasted. In addition, food production creates serious environmental pressures as fertilisers and different chemicals are used to maximise the yield.
Food is being wasted at every level of production and supply chain, from agriculture to consuming. According to the study published by the European Commission in 2010, an estimation of 179 kg of food wastes occur per person every year. The same study reveals that at different levels of the food chain the most of food wastes is produced by households (42%), food industry (39%) and catering outside households (14%). Less waste is produced by trade (5%).
In total 100 households and 20 catering facilities and establishments took part in the study. The households taking part in the study had to weigh all their every day food wastes during two weeks, in catering facilities the losses of food were monitored during five days.
Up to now food wastes and especially losses of food had not been specifically studied. By the end of the year, a follow-up study for full details will be completed. The focus will lie on production of food wastes in trade and production companies.