Special Session: Food Waste Research in China: Motivation Field Study, and Preliminary Results

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The Last Food Mile Conference
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Cheng, Shengkui

Food Waste Away-From-Home in the Beijing Urban Area—An Estimate Based on First-Hand Data Reducing food waste is attracting growing public attention in China, and is widely acknowledged to contribute to abating interlinked sustainability challenges such as food security, climate change, and water shortages. However, the pattern and scale of food waste throughout the consumer stage is poorly understood in China, despite growing media coverage and public concerns in recent years. This paper aims to the estimate food waste away-from-home in the Beijing urban area, mainly based on first-hand surveys. During the first-hand surveys in the catering sector in the Beijing urban area in 2013, 187 restaurants were investigated, which can be divided into large, middle, small, canteen and fast food categories. Finally, 3833 samples were been collected, and each sample included two parts: a consumer questionnaire, and the weight of food waste generated. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) It is estimated that about 79.69 g food waste were generated per capita and per meal away-from-home in the Beijing urban area. Obviously, the food waste varied greatly depending on the type of restaurant. For example, the generation in large restaurants was more severe, up to 3 times that in fast food restaurants. (2) The food waste generated comprises many different food groups; the most prominent by weight were cereals (25%), vegetables (41%), meats( 13%), seafood products (11%), poultry (7%), legumes (1%), eggs (2%), and dairy products (less than 1%). (3) According to different purposes and motivations of the meals, the estimate of food waste is: friends meeting (109 g), public events (95 g),family parties (62 g), working meals(63 g) (4) Causes of food waste away-from-home identified in urban China predominantly involve: lack of awareness, portion sizes, individual food preferences, income, and age of the diner. (5) On this basis, the study estimates annual food waste generation away-from-home in the Beijing urban area at approximately 298×103 tonnes, requiring the inputs of about 93441 hm2 arable land, 774020 hm2 grassland, 2461 hm2 water area and 829×103 m3 water wasted without benefit to the consumer. Estimation of Food Waste in Schools: A Case Study in Beijing Food waste issues have recently drawn great attention worldwide, for its great effects on food security, nutrition and environmental sustainability. Being a large country with more than 1.3 billion people, China has been facing very serious challenges in feeding its people, especially given the processes of rapid industrialization and urbanization. Students in elementary and middle schools are in significant stages of physiological and psychological growth. Their attitudes towards food waste, in some ways, may significantly impact the tendency to waste food, so research on food waste by students should not be neglected. The purpose of this study was to gather information on food waste in schools, including the amount of food wasted, its causes, and the possible measures for improvement. A food waste study in schools was conducted in 2014, the first stage began in ten middle schools, two elementary schools, and two food supply companies. We interviewed managers, workers, students, and teachers; and finished with 1000 student-questionnaires. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) Around 131.5 g food/cap/day is wasted in school, which consisted of staple foods (45%), vegetables (30%), meat (15%), and other categories like soup and oil (10%). The food wasted in school accounted for nearly 23% of the total food supply. (2) Scaled up to the entire city of Beijing, 98.6 tons of food was wasted for each meal, equaling 4.7% of Beijing`s kitchen waste, at a cost¥1.97 million. (3) The main causes involved poor food service management, inefficient food supply patterns, portion sizes, lack of awareness of food waste and environmental protection, etc. (4) The measures for reducing food waste include: better communication between school and family, education on food security and environmental protection, and adopting buffet-style dining instead of the traditional style.

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