Food waste: beauty is in the eye of the beholder

In Europe, around 30% of all fruit and vegetables are discarded each year just because of their appearance. The team behind Portugal’s FLAW4LIFE project has successfully worked with farmers, consumers, volunteers, and students to cut this waste by 2 600 tonnes. This compares to the annual amount of unused food from around 13 000 people.

Through the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission also wants to prevent food waste. The Strategy, which is part of the European Green Deal, aims to make food systems fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly.

With Portugal having taken over the rotating presidency of the EU on 1 January, FLAW4LIFE's Isabel Soares in Lisbon explains the project. 

How did FLAW4LIFE start?
"A lot of people tend to only buy perfect looking fruit and vegetables. This has resulted in just 70% of this produce going to market while the rest is discarded. We wanted to fight the problem and back in 2013, we successfully tested our approach known as Fruta Feia (Ugly Fruit) in Lisbon."

"Since, the company partnered with Lisbon’s City Council and the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) and applied for LIFE funding to start FLAW4LIFE in 2015."

What was the impact of this work?
"It's estimated that fruit and vegetable waste in Portugal has fallen by up to 14.6 tonnes per week. The farms involved are now more efficient as they are maximising their use of water, energy and soil to grow their produce. Emissions are down as there is less food decomposing into the atmosphere. The need to transport discarded food waste has also fallen."

"We are now working with 262 farmers, 6 450 consumers and 950 volunteers. There are 12 delivery points located across Portugal. We have even created eight new jobs for local coordinators to ensure that the whole process runs smoothly."

"By working with our partners, we have raised a lot of awareness in schools and communities on the fact that ugly fruit and vegetables are not waste. We have also produced a handbook that contains guidelines which can be used by other countries wanting to cut their food waste."

Source: European Commission


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