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Green Office Review

‘Food for the bin – sustainable food consumption through less waste’

The project of the Verbraucherzentrale NRW (consumer association of North-Rhine-Westphalia) and the Green Office initiatives of the University of Cologne, the University of Technology, Arts, and Sciences Cologne (Technische Hochschule Köln, TH) and the German Sport University Cologne (Deutsche Sporthochschule Köln) ‘NEiS – Nachhaltige Ernährung im Studienalltag’ (Sustainable food consumption in daily student life) started in early summer 2021 with the first lecture on the topic of food waste, its impact on the environment and climate and how everyone can reduce their food waste. The participants received an interesting overview via Zoom and in an interactive lecture.
How much food is wasted per capita in Germany every year and who decides what is waste? – the participants posed these and similar questions and were not disappointed by the answers: the current situation was conveyed through the clear presentation of statistical evaluations. For example, in Germany alone, 75 kg of food is wasted per capita every year. Of course, food production also generates waste, e.g. primary production with 1.4 million tonnes per year.

Besides ethical aspects, this food waste also has consequences for the environment and climate: due to large land consumption, water loss, and high emission figures (3.3 million gigatonnes of CO2), it is a significant factor!

Food waste is addressed in the UN's Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – for example, Germany wants to be a pioneer and halve food waste by 2030, saving about 6 million tonnes of CO2 per year!

Before the participants were given tips on how they can individually counteract food waste, a clear presentation showed how food waste can be avoided at university canteens – for example by precise portioning or by the possibility to choose a smaller/half portion.
After a concise overview of possible influences on food waste by individuals, the participants were given an overview of how they can help individually: proper storage, shopping tips, having food packed, etc. Many of these tips are provided on the website of Verbraucherzentrale NRW.