In collaboration with Luxembourg’s agricultural ministry, the Ilres polling company surveyed Luxembourg households to find out how to prevent food waste. 1,022 respondents, who were fully or partly responsible for their household’s grocery shopping, participated to the study between 29 August and 14 September 2022.
The survey found that 91% of households regularly throw away food stuff, 69% of which did so at least once a month, and 29% did at least once a week. People with children and those below the age of 45 were more likely to have picked up the bad habit. Parents, according to the ministry, have less time to plan meals. Leftovers, fruit, bread and vegetables tended to land in the bin more often on a monthly time scale.
Education and awareness to combat waste
The agriculture ministry estimates that many households don’t intend to let their groceries go bad, but just don’t know how to store them correctly. On its site antigaspi.lu, it explains not only how to arrange your fridge to make sure all items are stored at the right temperature, but also give tips on reducing the amount of food that ends up in the bin.
The other issue identified by the ministry is that people don’t interpret labels correctly. A use-by date, for instance, means that the product has to be consumed by that date--this is often the case for meat. A best-by date--often found on vegetables or dairy products--indicates until when a product will taste best--the item will still be edible after that date.
“This study allows us to understand the main factors that drive food waste in households, which is essential for defining our future actions,” agriculture minister Claude Haagen (LSAP) said in a statement.
Indeed, while many respondents (84%) to the study agreed that more awareness should be raised around food waste and good practices, 60% thought the situation hadn’t improved or worsened since the covid-19 pandemic. Many only estimated their monthly waste at €20 in value. 37% said they throw away food once it reaches the date on the package.
Ultimately, the study showed that households could positively impact food waste quantities the most, as they produced 75% of the waste produced in Luxembourg. Only 10% comes from collective kitchens, 8% from restaurants and 7% from businesses.
In the EU, 88 million tonnes of food waste are generated each year.