Retailers are not the problem when food is thrown away

Young people get groceries from a ton

The federal government wants to legalize the so-called containers.

(Photo: imago images/Sabine Gudath)

Basically, we should all be ashamed: it cannot seriously be considered as a contribution to avoiding food waste when people climb into retailers’ garbage containers and rummage around for food there. Ultimately, this is nothing more than an acknowledgment that something is fundamentally wrong in the way we deal with food.

The numbers are frightening. According to current estimates by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, almost eleven million tons of food are still thrown away in Germany every year. Even considering that some of it is inedible peels, bones or coffee grounds, that’s an indictment.

Apparently there is a lack of real appreciation for food – right down to the consumer. Because the vast majority of food waste, namely 60 percent, is generated in private households. Retail is only responsible for seven percent of food waste.

How pointless a discussion about the legalization of containers is is shown by the fact that retailers have so far been working most systematically to avoid food waste. Public pressure helped, of course.

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But today there isn’t a retailer who doesn’t donate to the food bank or offers food at a lower price shortly before it expires. Here, too, more can be done, but a lot less food ends up in the containers.

Hysterical discussion about gaps in supermarket shelves

The basic problem: A large part of the population expects food to be cheap and available at all times. The hysterical discussion about gaps in the supermarket shelves has once again clearly shown this. Complaints about a lack of yeast or less variety in the choice of pasta were so loud that it was as if famine was imminent.

The result: A lot of the food hoarded during the corona crisis is likely to have ended up in the garbage – because it was not really needed or had expired at some point. The fact that the prices of many foods are now rising may have the helpful side effect that it encourages people to be more careful with what they buy.

Because as long as it is not central in the awareness of every citizen that food leftovers are not left in the first place and edible goods are not thrown away, as long as everyone does not understand that food whose best-before date has expired does not automatically have to be thrown away, the problem will not be solved to let. Politicians must lead this discussion, not those about the legalization of containers.

More: Retailers are opposed to legalizing containers

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