A woman cutting vegetables in her kitchen in Helsinki on 4 April 2020. Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has urged households to make better use of leftovers in order to reduce the amount of food waste, which has effectively stayed unchanged since 2016. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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FINNS have failed to reduce food waste despite years of public debate surrounding food waste and recycling, reports YLE.

Researchers at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) recently published a report that shows that the amount of food loss has not decreased meaningfully in the past years despite numerous campaigns and, perhaps more surprisingly, the rapid rise in food prices kindled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Finns, the report indicates, produce 61.2 kilos of food waste per capita, representing a decline of 0.9 kilos from 2016. Both studies also found that around 25 kilos of the waste would have been edible at the time of disposal.

Sampa Nisonen, a researcher at Luke, on Tuesday told YLE that the results suggest that people simply cannot be bothered to change their habits.

“Changing your habits is very hard,” he said.

Nisonen and his colleagues identified the shift to remote work and its impact on lunch habits as one reason for the high amount of food waste: employees who cook lunch at home instead of eating out or at the workplace tend to cook large portions and may not realise that the leftovers could be frozen for a later date.

“Maybe people are busy and they can’t be bothered to make the effort,” viewed Nisonen.

The researchers determined the amount of food waste by sifting through household waste in Pirkanmaa, the second most populous region in Finland. Their analyses indicate that the sorting of waste has increased slightly since 2016, with the share of food waste thrown out as biowaste raising from 35 to 39 per cent.

Increasing sorting further would improve the possibilities to utilise biowaste in the production of biogas, for example.

Nisonen and Kirsi Silvennoinen, a senior scientist at Luke, highlighted in a blog post last week that food waste is created at all stages of the food cycle – from primary production to end consumption. Households accounting for roughly half of all food waste, they added, is particularly regrettable because the food they throw out is often prepared, meaning they are wasting not only food and money but also time and effort.

EU member states have committed to halving food waste by 2030, in accordance with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The European Commission has presented a draft directive that would impose legally binding targets on member states for reducing food waste due to lack of progress toward the goal.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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