FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Cutting food waste while improving food security and environment in Ukraine

An average Ukrainian generates 250-300 kilograms of waste per year; and this number is expected to rise. At that, up to 60 percent of solid municipal waste is composed of organic waste, including food waste. The current methods of waste management in Ukraine – mere collection of mixed waste and landfill disposal - have a detrimental impact on the environment. Therefore, the issue requires immediate attention.

In 2014–2017, Ukraine adopted the National Waste Management Strategy until 2030 as part of its commitment under the Association Agreement with the EU. The Strategy envisages a gradual transition from landfill waste disposal to a comprehensive waste management system, including sorting and segregation of waste for further recycling, processing and burial in the EU-compliant sanitary landfills.

With most waste accumulating in densely populated urban areas, cities must be at the forefront of tackling the problem. However, the challenges that municipalities are facing due to lack of technical and financial capacity and low policy priority hamper the efforts.

FAO initiates action in two major cities of Ukraine

In 2019, FAO started a pilot project in two cities of Ukraine – Kyiv and Lviv – aimed to assist the Ukrainian Government in reducing municipal food waste management in line with the National Waste Management Strategy and relevant policies.

In doing so, FAO partnered with the All-Ukrainian Environmental League to study the municipal solid waste management practiced in the two cities. In addition, food losses and waste at retail, HoReCa and consumer levels were assessed, as these contribute significantly to the municipal waste generation. It was estimated that food waste makes from 20 to 55 per cent of all solid municipal waste. The findings were used to feed recommendations for the government of Ukraine, local authorities, and non-governmental organizations to advance the municipal solid waste management system.

While the sector requires structural reforms, FAO and the All-Ukrainian Environmental League focused on the reduction of food waste in households and food businesses and the improvement of food security situation of vulnerable groups in Kyiv and Lviv through an educational program and food recovery and redistribution activities. The latter include a so-called "Feed Your Neighbour" initiative, which through a network of volunteers recovers food surpluses from local food companies and redistributes it to food-insecure groups and individuals. The All-Ukrainian Environmental League established partnerships with a number of food producers, retailers and food service companies to support a care centre for elderly people in Kyiv and a homeless shelter in Lviv, as both institutions rely on donations to meet immediate needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged.

To facilitate and expand the reach of this initiative, the All-Ukrainian Environmental League is working to develop an online platform for registration of surplus food available for collection from businesses. Thus, the platform would connect the potential food donors - farmers, retailers, and businesses in the HoReCa sector – with food banks, civil society organizations, and municipal social care institutions to claim donations for redistribution to their food-insecure beneficiaries.

In addition, the All-Ukrainian Environmental League is working on the adaptation of educational materials that will be used in primary and secondary schools of Kyiv and Lviv to educate children on food waste reduction. The package of educational guides “Do Good: Save Food!” was developed by FAO in close cooperation with International Food Waste Coalition to shape and promote a more sustainable consumption among children. For, educating young people – the future consumers - would bring about the behaviour change required to stem food waste problem.

The guides seek to promote awareness of the economic, social and environmental consequences of wasting food, advantages of preventing food waste, actions that children can take to reduce food waste and good habits that they can develop and introduce to their friends, families and communities to reduce food waste.

The package comprises four teaching manuals targeted to children of different age groups and includes games, quizzes and other interactive activities to help improve knowledge and understanding of children, but also empower them to start acting differently now.

About the project

This project is implemented under FAO’s regional SAVE FOOD Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction with the support of the Multidisciplinary Fund.

The SAVE FOOD Initiative of FAO aims to guide and facilitate collaboration between the private sector, governments, research, and civil society to improve the general impact of interventions through joint planning and implementation and efficient use of resources. SAVE FOOD takes a multi-disciplinary holistic, integrated approach, to ensure that food loss and waste reduction is technically, economically, environmentally and socially acceptable, feasible and cost-effective.

FAO’s Multidisciplinary Fund (MDF), being part of the Programme Work and Budget in 2018-19, were funding initiatives to strengthen collaboration across disciplines and organizational boundaries and to encourage formulation of creative measures that increase the efficiency and effectiveness of delivering Regional Initiatives and the work of FAO Strategic Programs at country level.

9 March 2021, Kyiv, Ukraine