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There has been a lot of talk about surplus food waste in the media recently, especially in the last month of Ramadan, an issue which American news site Vox describes as ‘the world’s dumbest problem’.
It is. What seems to me an easily avoidable issue, is instead, a major contributor of everything from resource depletion to global hunger to greenhouse gas emissions. What are countries around the world doing to solve this problem, and how can Bahrain follow suit?
In South Korea, the government in 2005 banned food waste from reaching landfills and today 90 per cent of food waste in Korea is recycled. It is repurposed as either biofuel (obtained from the liquid squeezed out of the food waste) or as animal feed.
The citizens of Korea are made to pay for the food waste they produce, by placing it in prepaid pre-weighed bags, or in some states, having an automated e-bin to calculate how much they need to pay based on how much food waste they throw out.
Looking to another country, France in 2016 introduced a new law that prohibits grocery stores from throwing away unsold food, which is instead donated to charities in need. What’s more, lessons on agriculture and food sustainability form part of school curricula, and certain companies have to report on the amount of food they waste on a monthly basis.
Such initiatives have not been in vain. South Korea was able to reduce food waste from 5.1 million tons in 2008 to 4.82 million tons in 2014, and France in 2017 bagged first place in the Food Sustainability Index, which ranks around 67 countries on food sustainability.
A more individualistic alternative would mean following in the footsteps of Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, two environmentalists who challenge themselves daily to live without generating any rubbish, including food waste.
But when it comes to environmental concerns, while some may argue that intervention on the part of the government isn’t necessary provided we all do our part, I think that more significant strides can only be achieved if legislature is involved.