There are things we can't totally explain, and food waste numbers are one of them: 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year in the world. Yes, between 33 to 50 % of all food produced globally is never consumed. Meanwhile, 800 million people go to bed hungry every night.
More than 50 % of food waste takes place in our homes. In Finland, households waste between 120 to 160 million kilograms of food, or 20 to 25 kilograms per person, every year. One-third of worldwide food production is wasted, and that means we have at least 33 % of responsibility in making an impact on the environment. Not wasting food is the most simple and effective way to fight climate change.
Different from what we can imagine, only 2 % of food waste takes place in retail stores, such as supermarkets. Even though the supply chain is problematic, the sector is implementing practices to salvage food that was going to be put away, and a big part of this is by lowering prices. For example, every night at 9 pm, S-market discounts various foods that are about to spoil, and the Happy Hour of the supermarket has been a win-win for consumers and the company.
As a matter of fact, Finland has the goal of becoming a role model in the sustainable use of natural resources. Created by Sitra, a road map with ways to achieve a circular economy presents business models using the circulation of materials. The expected potential of expanding lifecycles of materials is to save to the national economy from 2 to 3 billion Euros by 2030, and food waste prevention measures are one of those key assets.
So, the Finnish government knows that promoting a circular economy helps to control the overconsumption of natural resources, protects biodiversity, and creates new types of jobs to boost the competitive strength of the economy. Companies created specifically to end food waste, like WeFood, the first lost food store, are selling surplus products retail stores can't sell anymore, with lower prices. Also, web apps can help customers to find discounts close to your location. Olio, Too Good To Go, are some active examples.
And other innovative companies are inside the circular economy model by giving power to the consumer to reuse their product (and more). Helsieni is one of them, selling mushroom growing kits which use leftover brewed coffee. The business, created from scratch thinking about local and sustainable use of resources, have a vision, as the co-founder Chris Holtslag says: "In the future, all businesses will have to have a low carbon footprint, as energy (consumed and embedded) will increase in price, and there will be a need to find local solutions to meeting society's needs."
One of the first tech companies for insect farms in Finland, EntoCube understands the potential of using food waste to feed insects, but also the regulations on what's legal. "Some farmers have started using leftover vegetables as an addition to dry feed, which we see as the first practical step towards more sustainable insect feeding. There is an ambition to use bio and agricultural waste to feeding insects. The insects are considered as livestock, and especially when targeting human use, the feed regulations do set the strict boundaries what feed materials can be used," says Jaakko Korpela, CEO of the company.
Different councils in Finland are developing strategies for a circular economy, promoting more direct cooperation between municipalities, companies, and food producers. It not only helps now resources are reused but also how local and small producers are fundamental in this matter. The whole circular economy movement is not just something national, and even global, but also local: from your house to your neighborhood, to your city, and country.