Its a first: International Day of Zero Waste

The first International Zero Waste Day was celebrated on March 30th, 2023 with the aim of promoting sustainable production and consumption patterns and reducing waste on the planet. The initiative is jointly facilitated by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) The day was celebrated to raise awareness of the issue of waste and its impact on the environment, and to encourage individuals, businesses, and governments to take action to reduce waste.

This day was an important milestone in the fight against food waste, especially in light of the Spanish Council of Ministers approval of the draft Food Loss and Waste Prevention Law in June 2022 and effective as of January 2023.

Whats the problem with waste ?

Waste has emerged as a pressing concern, posing dual threats to the environment and climate change. The decomposition of waste in landfills and oceans releases greenhouse gases, intensifying the problem. Compounding this issue is the finite nature of many resources, resulting in detrimental impacts on both the environment and economy.

Food loss and waste present a global challenge affecting developed and developing nations alike. The United Nations estimates that 1.3 billion tons of food are lost or wasted annually, equivalent to one-third of global food production. This waste permeates the entire food supply chain, spanning from production to consumption.

Moreover, food waste carries significant social implications, especially in light of the staggering statistic that more than 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger worldwide. Reducing food waste is, therefore, crucial for ensuring that everyone has access to nutritious and sustainable food.

In developed countries, excessive food waste primarily occurs during the consumption stage, as consumers often purchase more than necessary and discard the surplus. Conversely, developing countries face significant food waste during production and storage due to inadequate infrastructure, limited refrigeration facilities, and inefficient supply chains. These can lead to severe economic implications, particularly for small-scale farmers and food producers depending on the produce for their livelihoods.

The repercussions of food waste extend beyond environmental concerns and encompass society and the economy. Deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity loss are among the adverse outcomes. Additionally, wasted food means squandered resources, including water, energy, and labor invested in its production.

The zero waste movement has emerged as a response to the problem of waste. It aims to reduce waste at the source through product and process redesign, promoting sustainable consumption patterns, and minimizing waste generation. The ultimate goal is to create a circular economy, eliminating waste and maximizing resource use. These initiatives support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, addressing all forms of waste, including food loss. Embracing the zero waste approach leads to environmental, social, and economic benefits by conserving resources, reduces pollution, fosters sustainable industries, and promotes responsible business practices.


Fighting Food Waste in FUSILLI

FUSILLI implements several initiatives towards reducing food waste in the food supply chain in all 12 of the Living Labs. The project focuses on improving traceability and transparency in the food supply chain to identify where the greatest amounts of food waste are occurring and take measures to reduce it. Here are some of the actions that FUSILLI carries out:

  1. Promoting urban agriculture: The FUSILLI project promotes local food production in cities through urban and peri-urban agriculture. This reduces the need to transport food from rural areas and reduces the associated carbon footprint.
  2. Direct distribution of fresh food: FUSILLI encourages the direct distribution of fresh food from local producers to consumers. This reduces the amount of food lost in the distribution chain and helps ensure that food reaches its final destination.
  3. Composting: The project works to promote composting and the creation of systems for collecting food waste for reuse in the production of organic fertilizers. This reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and promotes the circular economy.
  4. Education and awareness: FUSILLI is also dedicated to educating consumers and other actors about the importance of reducing food waste and provides tips and tools to reduce food waste at home.
  5. Food rescue and redistribution of food: FUSILLI works in collaboration with local organizations involved in food recovery, such as food banks, soup kitchens and other similar initiatives.

FUSILLI strives to enhance collaboration and communication among actors in the food supply chain, aiming to prevent overproduction and improve the efficient distribution of food. By doing so, it contributes to reducing food waste. The project strives to make a significant milestone towards creating a sustainable and responsible food supply chain, making a global impact on the issue of food waste.


A collective fight against food waste

To fight against food waste, governments, businesses and consumers can all take action. Governments can implement policies that encourage the reduction of food waste, such as promoting the donation of unsold food, introducing regulation that limit the expiration date of food, or creating educational programs to teach consumers how to store and use food more effectively. Businesses can improve the efficiency of their supply chains, reduce portion sizes and promote the sale of imperfect products that might otherwise be wasted. Finally, consumers can buy only what they need, plan their food purchases to avoid waste, and store and cook food effectively to prevent food spoilage.

In conclusion, food waste is a complex global problem that affects us all. By taking individual and collective action, we can reduce the amount of food that is lost or wasted and help ensure that everyone has access to enough nutritious and sustainable food, being part of the change that the planet needs Let us all join together to make a difference and create a more sustainable and responsible food supply chain.


Author: Carmen Hernandez Yanguas, CARTIF