Food loss and waste – selected projects

Centre for Sustainability and Energy

Food loss and waste in the Swiss catering sector

According to an FAO-commissioned study, around one third of all the food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted, which has a negative impact in economic, ecological and social terms. Detailed qualitative and quantitative information on food loss and waste is required before action can be taken to tackle this problem, but such information is notably lacking for the catering sector.

Two Swiss catering companies were therefore selected for a research project which involved recording all food waste generated over a period of five days, broken down into four categories (storage, preparation, serving and table waste). The waste was divided into seven food types and weighed. The consumer interface was investigated by means of a customer survey, and a material flow analysis was carried out to highlight material and financial losses along the process chain.

The outcomes of this research were published in 2014 in the journal “Waste Management”. Further research is planned to assess the effectiveness of newly developed waste reduction measures.

Publication "Food waste in the Swiss food service industry"

Food processing waste

Researchers, legislators and practitioners in Switzerland have been engaged in heightened efforts since 2012 to quantify food loss and waste along the food chain and to introduce prevention or recycling measures. The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment [Bundesamt für Umwelt, BAFU] plays a key role in initiating, coordinating and raising awareness about these activities.

Broad-based data collection exercises have now been carried out (or are underway) at all stages of agricultural production and consumption, which are the two leading causes of food loss and waste. Food waste in the catering and retail sectors has also been accurately quantified, but a structured survey of food waste has not yet been carried out for Switzerland’s industrial food processing and production industry.

In order to obtain the data required, research involving a detailed material flow analysis of food loss in the Swiss food processing sector (broken down by sector and ignoring other waste and recycling) has been carried out on behalf of BAFU and in collaboration with ZHAW’s Institute of Biotechnology.