5 Innovative Ways Denmark and France Are Tackling Food Waste at Christmas - Dispatch Weekly

December 9, 2016 - Reading time: 12 minutes

Christmas is a time for over-indulgence and over-spending, which increases the amount of garbage deposited into trashcans. As Christmas dinner leads to mince pies to sherry, to second helpings did you know that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste in the US increases by more than 25 percent? Added food waste, shopping bags, packing, wrapping paper, bow and ribbons add up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills, according to EPA.

We all know we can reduce, recycle and reuse but how are different countries dealing with food waste in the festive season?

#1 Danish Supermarket Sells Almost Expired Food

Photo Credit: We-Food
Photo Credit: We-Food

We-Food, a Danish supermarket and charity are selling second-hand food, past before the best before date in Copenhagen for half the original price and have plans to expand further to a total of three outlets.

United Against Food Waste, estimates that in Denmark, each year there is 700,000 tons of food waste, costing Danish consumers more than 11 billion DKK ($1.6 billion) a year. Households waste more than 260,000 tons and the food industry wastes 133,000 tons per year.

Thomas Mølgaard Anderson, head of Second Hand & We-Food at DanChurchAid told Metro Morning:

“It’s illegal to sell food past its date of expiry, but it’s still legal to sell food that’s past its best-before-date.”

The food includes damaged, unwanted and blemished: frozen food, cans, savories, baked goods and groceries from shipping and deliveries.

The charity recruits volunteers who check the quality of food by tasting and checking they are safe for consumptions. They also inspect Denmark landfills, collecting food, stocking them in We-Food shops.

Data from PriceRunner showed that Copenhagen was the fifth most expensive country in the world, with living costs on par with New York City.

Danish prices were 42 percent above the EU average, being more expensive than Finland, at no. 2, and Sweden, at no. 3, with consumer prices at 24 per cent and 22 per cent over the EU respectively, according to Seven59.dk and business daily Borsen.dk.

People frequenting We-Food are a-typical, including different demographics as Anderson noted:

“You have the youngsters, a person on welfare benefits, you have the middle class, you have the above middle class people-it’s a very big mixture -the only group that we see in our market surveys that are under-represented for now is the older part of the population.”

#2 Activist Wants US Food Giants To Sell Misshapen Groceries

Photo Credit: Ugly Fruit & Veg, Twitter

Jordan Figueiredo, an activist armed with an Ugly Fruit & Veg campaign on social media, with nearly 31k followers on Twitter, wants US food giants to include misshapen fruit and vegetables.

His social media accounts includes Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and have garnered many followers due to funny images of weird and wonderful groceries, some of them with human features like the tomato with a nose-like bump.

The campaign takes 30 hours of Figueiredo’s time after work to head, leading him to launch the Zero Food Waste Forum, which inspired Jamie Oliver to create 5,000 free lunches using surplus food.

So far, Whole Foods has begun using wonkily shaped groceries and the activist’s petition to Walmart has gained 159,000 signatures.

Walmart stated that they will pilot selling ugly looking fruit and vegetables at 300 stores in Florida.

#3 France Declares it Illegal to Throw Out Food Nearing Sale By Date


France is a long time top culinary destination and it’s not surprising that the country scored highest in an index metric documenting efforts made to curb food waste including 25 countries.

France scored 67.53 out of 100, claiming first place after Japan (66.66) and Canada (64.86)

The report measured food sustainability and a quantitative and qualitative benchmarking model.

This may be due to the French legislation on 3 February 2016, which prevents supermarkets from disposing edible food, forcing them to donate it to food banks and charities. There is also a mandate that food waste be addressed in the school curriculum at schools.

The report made by The Economist and the Intelligence Unit, 2016 found that the average French person throws 110 kg of food per year, contributing to climate change.

Food waste has been a hot topic in France leading to the pop up of food-waste dinners and restaurants such as: the Freegan Pony in Paris, which includes rotating chefs making meals from discarded wholesale food.

At Simoe Lemon, food is created from ugly groceries making vegan dishes where guests pay for the food by weight, discouraging waste.

2014 also saw Arash Derambarash, the French Councillor, start a Change.org petition challenging food waste, which received 210,000 signatures.

#4 KinoSol Uses Sun to Make Dried Food to Feed the World

Photo Credit: KinoSol

KinoSol is the latest social enterprise start-up by Mikayla Sullivan, studying global resources at Iowa State University and four other colleagues, hoping to use the food dehydrator as an answer to global postharvest losses in developing countries.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.

40 percent of this food loss happens in postharvest and processing stages because without storage or refrigeration the food goes off.

KinoSol won a $35,000 Waislitz Global Citizen Award, and has developed into a $250 product that includes solar-powered lightweight panels that acts as a small greenhouse, dehydrating groceries, grains and beans in just under 8 hours.

At present the four colleagues are examining data from NGOs and organisations in developing countries such as: Bangladesh, Cambodia and Somalia, aiming to make a prototype in 2017.

#5 Canadian App Flashfood Connects Restaurants with Consumers

Photo Credit: Flashfood

Flashfood, a new app based in Toronto, connects restaurants and customers, selling leftover food to customers.

The Flashfood app stresses that the food is not leftover from previous diners, but is made from fresh goods and produce.

The idea was conceived after the founder’s sister, Paula who works in catering, told him that she was instructed to throw $4,000 worth of clams and then walked past homeless people on the street.

The app works by allowing retailers to make a post including the pickup location, the expiry date and a photo documenting the discounted item, which is at least 60 percent, with plans to increase to 75 percent in the near future.

The idea is that businesses and restaurants will make a profit from food that would get tossed out, which adds to wasteful practices and damage to the environment.

Josh Domingues, Flashfood’s founder and CEO has expanded to 30 interested Toronto restaurants, launching a pilot in London, Ont., with plans to grow.

His motivation is to address how food rots under garbage in landfill sites, making methane gas, which is one of the most harmful greenhouse gasses.

He said, “If international food waste were a country, it would be the third leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions behind the U.S. and China.”

According to the Journal of Cleaner Production, 2014, $31 billion worth of food is wasted in Canada each year. This is approximately 40% of food produced yearly in the country.

What other ways can food waste be tackled this Christmas and New Year? Are schools, businesses and governments doing enough? 

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.