Fighting against Waste - Norway’s Unique Effort
This time we are looking at a very uncommon effort – because the waste we are talking about in this post is slightly different too. We are looking at food wastage and how a Norwegian chain of supermarket Lentusgruppen has come up with an idea to help reduce it.
It all began back in 2010 when the facts and figures indicated that the carbon emission from the food waste in Norway was about 978,000 tonnes of CO2. Norwegian food industry started taking small steps like selling reduced packets of food, informing people how to keep the food they bought fresh for longer period and how much money they are just throw away each year in the form of food they waste. Labels that said “use by” were switched with the ones saying “best before”.
Target was to reduce the waste by 25% by 2015. What Norway achieved was 12% reduction per person with each person throwing away approximately 42 kg of food a year. Estimates indicated waste consisted 11% of the fresh produce and 4% solid dairy products and the sum total waste was still 355,000 tonnes a year.
Norwegian government then realized it was time to amp up the efforts but felt like mere lawmaking may not be the right answer. The target they were setting this time was further 15% waste reduction by 2020, get to a 30% reduction by 2025 and finally touch 50% reduction mark by 2030. What was needed here was creativity.
Best Før supermarket is a branch of Lentusgruppen who sells food that has passed its best before date or is about to go bad very soon. The store openly informs its customers about the nature of the food it is offering in the aisles and chillers. They also charge far less prices for those items. For example coffee pods that should have been gone by April but aren’t can now be purchased for less than half the regular price at this store. Same are the deals on taco and biscuit packs that sit unsold, have crossed their best by dates and probably would have gone to waste by any other regular supermarket.
But that is the whole idea for Best Før; to sell what is still kind of safe to consume and customers can find it for the cheapest price there is, in Oslo. Now not all the Oslo is super excited to shop there, but those who want to help this planet with the changing climate are. To them what’s edible is edible and can be bought.
The idea is gaining popularity though. Bestfør.no is a platform that keeps a digital record of various products’ sell-by dates. Stores can then swiftly lower the prices on such items to sell them more efficiently. Foodlist is an app that allows people to take pictures of the food items they find that are near expiry dates and then share it with public along with its location information making it easy for anyone who is interested in buying those or can benefit from it in any way.
SNÅL frukt & grøn are selling vegetables that begin to lose their freshness but are still good enough to eat or eggs that might not appear 100% the right color and throw in a 30% discount. Small and big, all these efforts are saving people not only money but also time and energy that goes into searching such items. Norwegian government is happy to find an environment friendly solution to waste production and Nadeem Ahmed; operations manager at the Best Før supermarket is happy to be among the first ones pursuing this idea. Ahmed is also working towards building a website where people can sell food items in their homes that is consumable and they are no longer interested in consuming it themselves kind of like selling on eBay. Ahmed plans to call it Savefood.
If people of Norway can do it others can too. What a great impact it will create collectively benefiting this planet and people in so many ways beyond reducing waste production and carbon emissions if more people open up to this idea.