Food waste falls 15 percent in the Netherlands

Wasting food
A pile of 'garbage' food. ()

The average Netherlands resident tossed about 41 kilograms of food into trash bins last year, which translates to a 15% decrease in food waste from 2010. That year people still threw away 48 kilos of food, according to research commissioned by the Economic Affairs and Infrastructure & Environment ministries in the Netherlands. 

Bread is the most wasted food item at more than nine kilos per person per year. In total, about 700 million kilos of edible food is wasted, constituting 145 Euros per person per year. Also, other data suggested 57 liters of liquids (mostly coffee and tea) was washed down the drain per person in 2016. 

Interestingly, people in the Netherlands think they only throw out about 21 kilos a year - only half of the actual amount of food wasted yearly, the Volkskrant notes. End consumers appear to be the group who waste the most food annually. They represent about 30% of total food waste. Other areas prone to significant food waste are agriculture, food processing and storage firms, hospitality businesses and grocery stores.

Environmental research agency Milieu Centraal and food advocacy group Voedingscentrum are moderately positive about the seven kilo drop in waste. It is "Too little to speak of a significant decrease", a Milieu Centraal spokesperson tells the NRC.

Although food waste in the Netherlands is decreasing, Economic Affairs Secretary Martijn van Dam says he is not satisfied yet. "We have to tackle waste together: the government, businesses and consumers." He has been continuously vocal about getting rid of certain expiry dates on the packaging of food items which are still edible far beyond the deadline indicated. Recent research has shown that waste of provisions such as rice, pasta and coffee would decrease by 12 percent if expiration dates were omitted.

Van Dam sent the reports to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch Parliament, on Tuesday.