SAVE FOOD: Initiative mondiale de réduction des pertes et du gaspillage alimentaires

The Wastestimator project in Finland: a new tool to estimate and monitor food waste

Photo credits : Johannes Jansson /, Kirsi Silvennoinen / Luc, Timo Niemi / Mara, Yanid Levy / Source: Luke.Fi
08 Jan 2018

Between 335 and 460 million kilograms of food waste are produced in Finland each year. In order to monitor and estimate food waste, LUKE, the National Resource Institute of Finland, created a waste estimation project, dubbed ‘Wastestimator’’, which ran from January 2016 to February 2017.

Targeting the food sector, including households, some of the Wastestimator’s findings have been recently made available, with more results expected to be presented in the near future.

A total of seventy-two Finnish establishments, including thirty schools, fourteen day-care centers, and 9 restaurants, took part to the Wastestimator project. Food waste was divided in two categories: avoidable food waste (mainly referring to spoiled products and over production) and unavoidable food waste (vegetable peels and bones). The avoidable food waste was divided in three categories (kitchen waste, service waste, leftovers) and was weighted and sorted. Composition analysis enabled an objective measurement of food waste. 

In Finland, day-care centres, hospitals and elderly service centres appear to be the most wasteful with twenty-seven percent of its waste being food waste. In the case of day-care centres, five percent of the waste produced is kitchen waste, twelve percent is service waste and ten percent, leftovers. Fast food restaurants were reportedly the most efficient as their waste was determined to be made up of only two percent of kitchen waste, two percent service waste and three percent leftovers.  

Researchers from LUKE found that the main challenge in reducing food waste is the minimisation of the service waste which can be achieved by getting to know the clientele better, having a good estimate of the expected number of clients, more careful menu planning and correct portion sizes.  

They also determined that the catering and hospitality sector have an urgent need for weighing and documenting food waste data and for establishing food waste minimisation guidelines. 

Finland has been evaluating whether to pass a law against food waste. More than a hundred (out of two hundred) Members of Parliament signed a bill proposing that edible food removed from sale be used in a beneficial way or be distributed. However, costs pose a challenge to the bill’s passage and eventual success. 

Researchers calculated that food recovery will double the current costs for most of the food chain operators in terms of book keeping, sorting, storage, distribution and smaller operators cannot – at this point – absorb these additional expenses. 


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