Food Waste Combat is a team of gourmet, and enthusiastic NGO people who set out to attack food waste in Romania. They organized information sessions, educational workshops in schools, restaurants, and companies. They also created the Cluj Food Bank, which later became a standalone project.
It all started in 2012, at a wedding, the initiators were baffled, and horrified by the waste of food, becoming aware of it due to that particular context. So they set out to do something about it., and so they did.
They built an army, in the beginning were just a handful of determined gourmands and people who understood the value of being involved in the community, aiming to leave something behind. They laid the foundations of Food Waste Combat, and started spreading the word around them about what waste is, how much is part of our lives, on how we can feed everybody from Cluj Napoca (around half a million people) for 20 years with the food wasted in Romania annually, and many other related issues.
Founding out how much food is thrown away at the hypermarkets and markets in our city, they created the Food Bank. The Food Bank helped children from their social partners to eat better, by redistributing the surplus to them in the summer of 2018. Apart from that, to emphasize how much money could be saved by saving wasted food, they cooked community dinners where they fed 60 people with 25 Euros.
Let's see why Food Waste Combat is an excellent example of circular economy:
1. The primary resources are fresh vegetables that are not in the best shape, otherwise thrown into the garbage. They gave examples about how the food thrown away by the supermarkets can be repurposed, and all the energy behind creating it being recovered. Creating the Food Bank as an intermediate between hypermarkets, and social entities that work with children, they saved around 8.4 tons of food for 300 people in 2018, for example, and 138 tons for 2500 people in 2020.
2. They created a lot of awareness both at small level, but also among big retailers. Working with retail supermarkets scaled their initiative from workshops, school workshops, and event diners to regional food banks and a national network that saves thousands of tons of food each year. The local enthusiasts become the core of a regional social company team with a wide infrastructure for transporting food from supermarkets to social entities.
3. By making the connection between social entities and big retail supermarkets, they managed to impact in a positive way not only the lives of many challenged young people but also of their volunteers. The initial intentions of raising awareness about food waste are making a comeback, this time at a different level and with a much more durable impact. Involving volunteers in the day-to-day activities gives them not only valuable new skills but also an in-depth view of how big the impact of food waste has in general.
• food waste,
• upcycling unwanted vegetables,
• circular and social economy,
• redistribution and logistics,
• waste awareness
Through this case study, you learn that:
- any situation can be the trigger for finding a big problem that needs solving.
- Sometimes, consumers must make thoughtful decisions and not always act on their first instinct.
- food waste is a huge problem that can be solved at different levels.