Every single day, huge amounts of food are wasted, be it from leftovers on our plates in restaurants or even in every household.
In the last couple of years, big marketing campaigns have been conducted to raise awareness of this issue. Accordingly, governments around the world have begun to develop various methods and strategies in order to reduce this massive food waste. Such initiatives include those of NGOs around the world that have been created for the sole purpose of reducing food waste. In addition to that, governments have implemented educational campaigns in schools and even in the public sphere with the goal of informing citizens about the consequences of food waste, such as its contribution to global climate change.
This article will discuss the UAE’s progress in the area of food waste management and will feature commentary from Mr. Hamad Al Wazzan, a well-known F&B investor in the GCC.
Wasted food is a problem on a global scale
Initiatives around the world have seen the light in the past decade, taking place in various areas around the world. For instance, countries like France and England have begun enforcing new regulations and laws that penalize those who don’t comply with proper food waste reduction methods. This has incentivized a wide range of businesses to look for more efficient and environmentally friendly ways of managing their food waste. Additionally, countries such as Sweden and Denmark have made efforts to establish a more efficient system of food waste collection, which is then used for biogas production.
Following the same pattern, other countries started implementing initiatives that turned food waste into food for stray animals. Governments across the world have begun to recognize the importance of reducing food waste and have introduced various measures to ensure it. For example, the municipality of Zeytinburnu district in Turkey devised a novel way to tackle food waste, or rather, bread waste, a common problem in the country where some 6 million loaves of bread are dumped daily. The municipality provided food waste bins to small bakeries, enabling the bakers to dispose of their unwanted bread in an efficient manner. This bread was then collected and given to stray animals throughout the city, thus reducing the amount of food waste generated.
“Initiatives that change the country’s dynamic can start from one single idea. We constantly encourage SMEs and NGOs to set foot in the development path, for the betterment of their countries”, said Hamad Al Wazzan.
Dubai following the global lead
Dubai has experienced enormous economic and population growth, transforming the city from a small regional business hub in the 1970s to a global business hub of financial and tourism activities in the 21st century. Relevant Dubai Municipality reports were reviewed, and semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with representatives of large food importers and local producers to evaluate the link between the food importation requirements and minimizing food loss. Measures taken by the Municipality of Dubai to successfully reduce food loss and improve food security include the diversion of potential food loss to the United Arab Emirates Food Bank and recycling it into animal feed when appropriate.
According to Hamad Al Wazzan, food security and environmental sustainability are both negatively impacted by the substantial amount of food lost at various points in the food supply chain, including during food production. Dubai’s government had to intervene to reduce this type of waste.
The Dubai Municipality has taken a number of steps to reduce this food loss and improve food security. These steps include introducing regulations to monitor food safety and quality, revising the importation requirements for food to reduce food loss, implementing product traceability, and developing an effective waste management system. The Municipality has also implemented a food loss recovery program that collects excess, unused, and expired food products from restaurants, supermarkets, and other establishments in order to redistribute them to those in need or turn them into food suitable for stray animals.
Hamad Al Wazzan: “UAE leading the Arab World in advancements”
The UAE has once again positioned itself under the spotlight, as it launched multiple initiatives in the region to reduce food waste and thus produce animal food. In addition to these efforts, the UAE has launched various initiatives across the region to educate communities on food waste prevention, such as campaigns encouraging households to make wiser choices when it comes to grocery shopping and meal preparation.
“By implementing these regulations and initiatives, the UAE is helping to combat food insecurity and reduce environmental impact, making it a model for other countries in the region.”
One such initiative is when “The Stray Dogs Centre UAQ” has joined hands with prominent hotels and other businesses that deal with foodstuff around the UAE to collect the leftover food they produce and feed it to the canines they shelter. All the hotels and food vendors that choose to join the initiative are provided with a “dog-friendly” food list, and the center requires leftovers to be stored and sorted accordingly. This also includes raw meat offcuts and bones. This is an important step towards sustainable food production, reducing food waste, and ultimately helping both humans and animals have access to nutritious food. At the moment, a number of hotels are a part of it, including InterContinental Dubai Marina, Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Leva Hotels, Palazzo Versace Dubai, Family Meat Shop, and Eathos restaurant operating platform, amongst others.
U.A.E.’s pioneering waste-to-feed initiative
The UAE recently launched its first waste-to-feed project, which converts food waste into nutritious animal feed.
Circa Biotech, an agritech firm based in the United Arab Emirates, processes food scraps into animal feed. The larvae of the black soldier fly are used to convert waste food into protein and fat that can be fed to animals.
One and a half tons of organic fertilizer will be produced each month as part of Circa Biotech’s initial project. The company’s long-term goal is to double its production capacity, at which point it will be able to upcycle 200 tons per day of food waste into the food value chain. In doing so, the initiative will contribute to satisfying the rising demand for livestock feed in the region. Furthermore, it will reduce the industry’s reliance on fishmeal, the price of which has risen and become unstable recently due to a lack of supply and accounts for as much as 80% of total expenditures. Circa Biotech’s ambitious project not only addresses the rising need for livestock feed in the area, but also helps address the serious problem of food waste in the region.
According to Hamad Al Wazzan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has helped the local economy and provided for the region’s feed for livestock through a single, straightforward initiative. Before ending, he expressed hope that many Arab nations would soon experience similar progress.