Food waste worldwide emits up to 3.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year into the atmosphere – or about 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per minute. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after China and the United States. A total of 1.3 million tonnes of food waste (i.e. food and drink thrown away that was, at some point prior to disposal, edible) was thrown away in 2018 in Sweden (one percent of the world’s food waste). This corresponds to an average of 133kg of waste per person in one year. Food waste occurs for a number of reasons – during production, whilst in the sales channels, or in households. A large part of the food waste in the grocery trade is made up by fully edible food that is thrown away due to over-orders — shelves are continuously filled, meaning older products, or products not fulfilling aesthetic criteria are removed or even crushed.
ReWaste is a collaborative project where 50 companies and organizations develop methods to save edible food and reduce food waste in Sweden.
Axfoundation is a project partner in ReWaste and contributes with knowledge, contacts and analysis, primarily in business modeling and communication work linked to desired behavioral changes among consumers and organizational representatives. The result of the project will be an important tool for large-scale decentralized redistribution of surplus food throughout Sweden. This is an important step in reducing unnecessary food waste, which is one of Axfoundation’s focus areas within the Circular Economy program area.
ReWaste aims to reduce food waste in Sweden by developing efficient systems for redistributing surplus food. Excess food is food that can be eaten, but risks being sorted out as waste because it cannot be sold. This could be, for example, a sad-looking tomato, a package of potatoes with a broken label or an item in which the store’s sell-by date has passed, but not its best-before date. The project focuses on restaurants and schools that can take advantage of surplus food that stores and wholesalers would otherwise have thrown away.
The aim of the initiative is also to produce useful recommendations, guides and materials for logistics, new business models, IT systems, as well as communication and behavioral changes, so that new companies and organizations can easily set up their own redistribution systems. To know what works, we need to really test. These tests constitute good opportunities to try out our recommendations, guides and materials in real time before launching them widely.
By showing that it is possible to cook good food from things that are often thrown away or are found at home, we also hope to inspire students and restaurant customers to new ways of thinking. This is an educational effort to change attitudes and behaviors to reduce food waste in Swedish households.
In order to reduce food waste in a long-term and practically feasible way, many actors need to work together. The ReWaste project is led by Chalmers Industriteknik, with approximately 50 actors (schools, municipalities, transport companies, courier companies, restaurants, shops, wholesalers and more) working together on solutions for logistics, new business models, IT systems, communication, as well as behavioral changes, to reduce food waste, both in stores and in the home environment. The project started in the autumn of 2019 and is expected to run until December 2021.