Hacking away at the food-waste cycle

Superior cooperation, innovative use of technology including an app ‘hackathon’, and a spirit of goodwill are driving progress in a nine-partner project to better manage food waste in five Central European countries. 

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STREFOWA offers a little taste of what people throw away. ©ABF-BOKU STREFOWA offers a little taste of what people throw away. ©ABF-BOKU

" The greatest benefits come in early 2018 when we launch our Reducefoodwaste.eu online tool, which aims to provide everyone from farm to fork (and bin) with tips on how to reduce food waste in their respective environments. This tool will basically bring all the results of our work and knowledge on food waste together in a single place, which is really missing at the moment. "

Christine Doležalová, STREFOWA communication partner, Glopolis

With so many people struggling to make ends meet and feed their families, food wastage is not only an economic imperative, it also has powerful ethical undertones and environmental impacts — wasting natural resources and improper disposal leading to unnecessary CO2 emissions. 

The EU-funded STREFOWA project is raising awareness of this problem by focusing on better waste management practices along the whole food supply chain, including consumers, local authorities, restaurants, retailers, teachers, and waste facilities. 

Actions speak louder than words

The overriding mission of the project, led by Austria’s ABF-BOKU, is to ‘Give food waste a second chance’ by helping to redistribute the surplus. Concentrating on urban areas in selected central European countries, STREFOWA is also keen to raise awareness, promote training, and develop educational programmes and tools on how to prevent food wastage, so that less of the valuable resource ends up as waste in landfill.

For example, innovative pilot actions have been set up to explore new solutions for repurposing food and treating organic waste, in particular. Another action, STREFOWA’s Food Waste Hackathon series, invites app designers and IT enthusiasts to come up with new ideas to help people waste less food.

“Our Austrian and Czech hackathons generated seven impressive app designs that could really make a difference for reducing food waste in central Europe,” note the partners. Hackathons are now planned in Poland, Hungary and Italy. “There has already been interest shown by the private sector in the apps being developed and, in 2018, we might see the first results,” they predict. 

Knowledge is power

Participating countries are running pilot projects to see what works best to reduce and manage food waste. The results of these experiments are expected towards the end of 2017. “Each country is focusing on really interesting problems and solutions that can be transferred and tried out in other settings,” notes the project. 

The project is also collecting information on food-waste prevention initiatives in the partner countries, to go into an ongoing status and best practices report. “Knowing what is going on in our region and being able to easily access information and get inspiration will help motivate more people to take action to reduce food waste,” the partners conclude.  

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Strategies to Reduce Food Waste in Central Europe” is EUR 2 363 175, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 938 349 through the “Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE” operational programme for the 2014-20 programming period.


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