ZAGREB, December 8, 2019 – More than 300,000 tons of food is thrown away by Croatian households annually, while at the same time organisations try to incite solidarity with the hundreds of hungry and homeless people.
A survey whose findings were recently published in the Waste Management journal confirmed data that, on average, 75 kg of food per capita is thrown away in Croatia annually, as against 92 kg in Europe.
The survey was conducted in 2017, covering 115 Croatian households. It showed that many of them did not realise how much food they threw away.
Researcher Branka Ilakovac says households account for 77% of the 380,000 tons of food waste in Croatia, as against a little over 50% in Europe.
Eighty-eight million tons of food is thrown away in Europe and 1.3 billion worldwide.
In Croatia, fruit and vegetables account for 46% of food waste. Egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds account for 12%, bread and pastries for 9%, potatoes for 8% and meat for 7%. Pasta, rice and dairy products account for the least food waste, 4% each.
Households with more children throw away more pasta, rice and dairy products, while larger households throw away more meat, potatoes, bread, pastries, pasta and rice.
More educated respondents throw away less potatoes, pasta and rice, and those with higher incomes throw away more cakes, milk and dairy products.
An earlier survey showed that nearly half of respondents believed that too much food prepared for a meal was the main cause of food waste, while 29% felt the cause was the purchase of too much foodstuffs.
In order to reduce food waste, one-third of respondents fed it to their dog or cat, while a little over 25% tossed it in the trash, says Ilakovac.
It turns out that the shortcomings of waste management also contribute to food waste as a majority of respondents said they did not have an organised system for the collection and transport of biological waste.
There is room and need to further educate people about sorting waste because we have lost a lot of time, Ilakovac says.
Caritas Croatia has been trying for years to replace the practice of throwing food with donating it. As a result, regulations on food donation were amended in September to eliminate obstacles and make it easier to donate food.
Marija Batinić Sermek of the Agriculture Ministry says donors can donate food even after its best-by date and that they are eligible for tax breaks until the best-by date.
Boris Peterlin of Caritas Croatia agrees that the law is important but says the most important thing is “whether food is donated from the heart.”
Household food waste can be reduced via prevention, Ilakovac says, by buying only as much as we need, and not more as is the case now, and by not buying new food until we have consumed the food we have.
Donation works for big retail chains, not only for food near its best-by date or food that has arrived in the stores but also food in warehouses because the chains are aware they will not be able to sell all, Ilakovac says.
She has founded the Food Waste Prevention Centre which is focused on households which, she says, need help with this.
People don’t realise they throw away food because they have been doing it all their lives, Ilakovac says, adding that the relationship with food is not at all technical but first and foremost a question of a society’s maturity, a society which is responsible towards goods and the environment and shows solidarity.
More food news can be found in the Lifestyle section.