Written by Young Impactmaker Isabella Krammer

Our food waste problem

Almost 90 million tonnes of food worth €143 billion are wasted across the EU each year, with households responsible for more than half of this huge amount of waste. Meanwhile, 9 per cent of Europeans cannot afford a quality meal every other day, which stands in stark contrast to the ambitious SDG #2: Zero Hunger by 2030.

Without the right incentives, food waste unfortunately makes economic sense for supermarkets and the horeca industry. But given that food banks and other initiatives in the Netherlands collect about 20,000 tonnes of food each year, there is plenty of room to develop an effective redistribution system that could also add business value.

5 initiatives that fight food waste

Luckily, there are many ways to fight food waste, which don’t just satisfy our appetite and appease our guilty conscience, but also save us money! For instance, the Reduce Your Food Waste event powered by our Young Impactmakers community featured enterprises and initiatives that contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive food system.

  • Instock, which was founded by four Albert Heijn employees in 2014, is a chain with restaurants in Amsterdam, Utrecht and Den Haag. It transforms food surplus from Albert Heijn and other suppliers into delicious meals and even beer – made from rescued bread and potatoes!
  • BuurtBuik creates better neighborhoods by organising meals across the Netherlands. It prevents food waste by collecting excess food from caterers, supermarkets and grocers and sharing it with local residents. Their team consists mainly of volunteers and neighbors, who cook and eat together!
  • Oma’s Soep prevents loneliness and food waste at the same time. In the Netherlands, 40 per cent of elderly people feel lonely and €2 billion worth of food is thrown away each year. So their catering business brings elderly and young people together to make soups from leftover vegetables provided by Marqt.
  • Thuisafgehaald is a sharing economy platform for home-cooked meals. Via this platform, people can share meals with their neighbors, enjoy each other’s cooking skills and make new friends.
  • Taste Before You Waste collects food from grocery stores in Amsterdam Oost, organizes weekly dinners and markets, and educates communities on food waste.
Rescuing food and connecting people

These organisations rescue food from stores, the horeca industry and consumers – a total of about 18 tonnes each month! But their added value consists of more than the revenue they generate from preventing food waste; they also facilitate cultural exchange, strengthen social ties, and help fight loneliness. Which goes to show that complex issues like food waste offer plenty of opportunities to make positive change!

Towards a zero-waste food system

To support the shift to a sustainable food chain, there are many steps ahead. On a business level, we need to support ambitious entrepreneurs with developing solid business models and increasing stakeholder engagement. On a consumer level, we needs to raise awareness of food waste prevention techniques and decrease our individual footprints. And on an institutional level, we have to encourage supermarkets and horeca players to collect and share data on their food waste, and adopt viable waste sharing models.

Got a startup or SME (MKB) working towards a sustainable food chain? Apply for our Impact the Food Chain accelerator to strengthen your revenue model, growth strategy and impact!

Or just hungry for change? Join our Young Impactmakers community to meet other talented young people, and discover inspiring events and career opportunities!