„Throwaway society? – No, thank you!“

Sustainability is a topic of increasing importance in our society. Progress and innovation are very important issues, but also drive climate change and environmental pollution. As an internationally operating group, Roche is obligated to always act in the interest of sustainability. Our current campaign also addresses sustainability in the sense of “healthy and sustainable nutrition”.

In an interview with Miss Hermges from „Too good for garbage“ – an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection – we learned why too much food is thrown away unnecessarily, which consequences result for the environment and how everyone can contribute to reducing food waste.

How much do we usually throw away?

According to a study at the University of Stuttgart in 2012, which was sponsored by the Federal Ministry approximately 82 kilograms of food are thrown away per person each year – equivalent to two fully packed supermarket trolleys.  Fruits and vegetables account for roughly half of the food waste. Baked and pasta goods as well as leftovers are next on the list. Roughly two thirds of all food waste is avoidable.

Which consequences does the food waste have on our environment?

Food waste has extensive consequences for our environment: valuable farm land, water and fertilizer, energy for harvesting, processing and transport – the production of food requires valuable resources, which we waste pointlessly with every apple and bread we throw away. For making one kilogram of bread 1,000 liters of water are needed. The same amount of beef even requires 15,000 liter of water.

We pay twice for our waste, as we also require energy for removing it . Food waste, which cannot be avoided, should be reused in a useful way – like for compost.

Furthermore, waste also has ethical and economic consequences: while we throw away food in its original packaging, one billion people are starving worldwide. Considering the hunger in the world and with respect to our fellow human beings, we should use our food more carefully. Additionally, our behavior is tending to contribute to shortage of food, thereby increasing its prices.

What are typical throwaway traps in daily life?

According to numerous studies the core problem is that we generally aren’t aware of where the products come from and how much work and resources are required to produce them. Due to this we lose the relation to our nutrition and fall into many, actually avoidable traps.

The first trap already awaits us during purchase planning. We choose products which look tasty, but which we do not actually need. Or we buy too much because we let special offers, family packs or discount campaigns like “Take 3, pay 2” seduce us. Also inappropriate storing of food is a trap, because even food has its preferences: bright or dark environment, chilly or room temperature.

Additionally, we also throw away products which already have exceeded or will shortly reach their “best-before” day. However, this date – contrary to the “use by” date – does not give any information about the edibility. It pays, to trust one’s senses: if yoghurt smells, looks and tastes normally, it usually also is edible.

Also remaining leftovers are often thrown away due to excess and wrong storage. Dining out could also result in food waste, because many food stands, take away restaurants and normal restaurant also have high levels of food waste.

Which possibilities are there to reduce food waste?

Avoiding food waste already starts at home with purchase planning. Having an overview, which food one has at home and foresight, for example on what plans one has for the rest of the week is essential. The traditional shopping list is an optimal tool in order to optimally plan your necessary purchase

Mostly kitchen garbage exists due to wrong storing. A solution for this can be a basis of equipment of e.g. containers, cling film, separate fruit bowls and a bread box. Small leftovers, which already have been cooked once, keep well for several days in the fridge, if they are well sealed, or can be frozen.

Forgetting purchases in the fridge can be avoided, by sorting new products to the back and older ones to the front of the fridge to keep them in mind. This way, one can easily identify the products which need to be consumed quickly. Preserved and frozen food should be labeled with the date, on which it was produced or frozen.

Finally, leftovers like cut fruits or vegetables can be utilized creatively, for example with our recipes for “best leftovers”.

Can you name an example how this works, meaning how leftovers can be utilized in a tasty way?

Old buns, very ripe tomatoes and limp rocket from the day before don’t have to be thrown away. There are suitable recipes for each type of food and every occasion. From the previously mentioned food one can prepare a tasty bread salad – the perfect side dish for every lunch or dinner.

For further recipes from leftovers please check out the following website:


Thank you Miss Hermges for the interesting information and helpful tips!

Tags: Career Blog, Germany