Tackling food waste in institutional catering
For a few years now, my path has crossed that of the EPFL Sustainability team through different associative projects and events. One thing led to another, I talked with them and the idea of conducting a study on food waste at EPFL was born. The problem is huge: 2.3 million tons of food are wasted in Switzerland every year (1). With nearly 15,000 students and employees, the EPFL campus in Lausanne is both a substantial part of this waste and a real laboratory for studying solutions. My semester project focuses on a self-service to diagnose the amount of food wasted in the kitchen and the amount each of us leaves on the trays. It turns out that three quarters of the avoidable waste in canteens comes from trays: don’t hesitate to ask to adapt your portion to your hunger or to fill your ReBox with leftovers!
This project would not have been possible without many actors. A collaboration with the start-up Kitro (2) allowed us to evaluate the effect of the latest Act4Change challenge (3) on the food we throw away. These results were then put into perspective by estimating the total waste on campus and I was able to send my suggestions to the EPFL administration. All this would have been impossible without the existence of SKIL, which gave me both the support and the freedom to achieve my ambitions.
The mobilization to remedy this problem seems to be taking a new turn: on Tuesday, March 05, 2019, the national council pronounced itself in favor of an action plan to reduce 50% of food waste by 2030 (4). Like the Castor Freegan (5) on campus, a multiplication of initiatives within the communities will provide part of the answer for the remaining half.