Organic food waste in garbage bin bucket with lid in home on floor to be composted, Estonia

Organic food waste in garbage bin. Photo: Helin Loik- Tomson / iStock / Getty Images .

The study examined all stages of the food supply chain, which included households, catering establishments, food trade companies, the food industry and primary production (agriculture and fish farming). The study estimated the amount of food waste and food loss generated in each supply chain stage and analysed the causes.

Approximately 167 000 tonnes of food waste are generated in Estonia each year— that is, 127kg of food waste per capita per year in Estonia in the entire
food supply chain. Almost half (48%) of the food waste is generated in households, 19% in the food industry, 14% in primary production, 12% in retail and 7% in the catering sector. Food loss (i.e., edible food that becomes waste or so-called avoidable food waste) constitutes half of Estonia’s food waste (50%) or about 84 000 tonnes per year. The estimated total value of food wasted in the whole food supply chain is €164 million per year.

For the prevention and reduction of food waste and food loss, policymakers should:

  • create strategies and set political targets for food waste prevention and reduction at the state level;
  • contribute to the further development of monitoring and measuring methodologies, especially accounting of animal by-products;
  • promote food donation and support Food Bank and other similar organisations;
  • increase motivation to donate food beyond the retail sector, particularly in the food industry, catering sector, and primary production;
  • promote the prevention and reduction of food waste and support valorisation opportunities in food processing industries and the primary production sector;
  • promote and support the recycling of food waste (e.g., composting); and
  • support awareness-raising activities.