Food Waste in Switzerland
Updated: Aug 9, 2021
There are a large number of reasons for throwing food away, but they often do not make sense. In Switzerland, around a third of all food produced is lost between the field where it is grown and the plate. When food is produced but not consumed, it leads to unnecessary CO2 emissions, loss of biodiversity as well as land and water consumption.
Food waste corresponds to throwing away food that was originally intended for consumption. Across all phases of the Swiss food chain, 2.8 million tonnes of food are generally wasted per year, including imported goods. Private households and consumers are the biggest culprits, accounting for 38% of the waste.
Food waste can happen at any stage of food production or consumption: at the time of cultivation, processing, sale or even the end consumer. Usually, a distinction is made between avoidable and unavoidable food loss. On the one hand, avoidable waste includes everything that is edible but does not find its way onto our plates. Reasons for this can be spoilage or quality defects, for example a crooked carrot or a cucumber which is too long. Unavoidable food waste, on the other hand, includes bones, intestines or food that is infested with pathogens despite correct storage.
Food waste is not only morally questionable, but also a waste of important resources such as land, water and energy. It is also a waste in financial terms: on average, every Swiss household wastes the equivalent of 600 Swiss Francs a year.
Switzerland has committed itself to the goal of halving food losses worldwide by 2030 as part of the "UN Sustainable Development Goals". However, there is still a lack of clear targets and concrete measures.
Nevertheless, with a population of 8 million people, it is clear that Switzerland can make a difference! There is no need to waste food. If all parties involved manage to prevent at least a third of today's food losses, we could decrease the amount of CO2 by the amount produced by 500,000 cars.
Two thirds of food waste is avoidable, and you too can limit waste. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Avoid unnecessary purchases by planning your weekly shopping trip in advance. Before you go shopping, take a look inside your fridge to see what you have left and only buy what you need. Also make sure to have a snack before leaving: an empty stomach incites you to buy more.
Test whether expired products are really no longer edible. Often, products are edible beyond the printed expiry date, so use your senses to figure out if you really need to throw out that yoghurt.
Portion correctly! Before you start cooking make sure you only cook as much as you need and serve smaller portions. This helps with keeping more leftovers for later instead of not being able to finish your plate.
Proper waste disposal. Don’t dispose your food in water, taking it out of the sewage plant requires additional energy. Instead, compost!
Share food with friends and family. If you have too many leftovers, ask friends and family if they want some or host a get together.
Written by: Selène Kohler
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The main idea: There are a large number of reasons for throwing food away, but they often do not make sense. In Switzerland, around a third of all food produced is lost between the field where it is grown and the plate. When food is produced but not consumed, it leads to unnecessary CO2 emissions, loss of biodiversity as well as land and water consumption.
A gripping number: In 2017, approximately 2.8 million tonnes of food waste was responsible for one quarter of Switzerland’s food-related carbon footprint, and costs households over 5 billion Swiss francs.
A catchy sentence: In Switzerland, around a third of all food produced is lost between the field where it is grown and the plate.
Bundesamt für Umwelt (BAFU). (2020). Lebensmittelabfälle. Retrieved from https://www.bafu.admin.ch/bafu/de/home.html
Schweizer Tafel. (2020). Food Waste in der Schweiz. Retrieved from https://www.schweizertafel.ch/de/
Swissinfo.ch. (2019). Households are the biggest sources of Swiss food waste. Retrieved from https://www.swissinfo.ch/
WWF. (2020). Foodwaste. Retrieved from https://www.wwf.ch/de
Foodwaste.ch. (2020). Food Waste in der Schweiz. Retrieved from https://foodwaste.ch/