It’s estimated that Reykjavík residents throw out ISK 4.5 billion ($35.99m/€32.1m) worth of food every year, Vísir reports. Food waste in the capital has been periodically tracked by the Environment Agency of Iceland. In 2016, it conducted a survey of household and business food waste in the capital; this fall, it will repeat the survey to determine how this year’s food waste levels compare.
In 2016, it was discovered that every person residing in Iceland throws away an average of 23 kilos (51 lbs) of consumable food and 39 kilos (86 lbs) of unconsumable food annually. In addition, each person living in Iceland pours out an average of 22 kilos (49 lbs) of cooking oil and 199 kilos (439 lbs) of beverages every year. There was no significant difference in how much food people wasted in different parts of the country and the overall figures were comparable to those in other European countries.
“There are a lot of uncertainties about these measurements, which can make it difficult to make comparisons,” noted Margrét Einarsdóttir, a researcher at the Environment Agency. “But the goal now is to continue developing them. There aren’t any recognised or standardised methods for measuring food waste.”
The Environment Agency received a grant from Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, to carry out this study, and specifically asked that researchers conduct a pilot study to determine what measurements are best suited to tracking food wastage.
A thousand randomly selected households and around 700 businesses will participate in this year’s study, which Margrét says is specifically being staged in the fall, when the results are more realistic, as people are traveling less and there are fewer public holidays. Participants will be asked to weigh both the consumable and non-consumable food that they dispose of during the study period and record them in a diary. The companies surveyed will all work with food in some capacity.
Margrét says, however, that it is vital to the study that data is collected from across a wide spectrum of businesses. The last time that the survey was conducted, only 84 of the 701 companies surveyed submitted their data.“No data was received, for instance, from fisheries, fish processing plants, or companies in the dairy industry,” the 2016 survey explains.“It undeniably distorts comparisons with other countries when we’re missing data from such big and important industries.”
When asked if she had any predictions about the results, Margrét said that as a researcher, she wanted to avoid such things, but that she hopes that an increased public awareness has led people to modify their behaviours.“All you can really say is that there has been a lot of discussion about food waste over the last few months and you’d hope that it would help people to make better use of their food. Both households and businesses.”