By 2030, only 50 grams per meal should end up in the trash. But there is still a lot to be done to achieve this goal.
The residents of the Grünau retirement center in Zurich Altstetten have just had breakfast. Empty coffee cups are piled on large serving trolleys. There is no longer any self-service here. Coffee is only served “à la carte”, says Andreas Madlener, head of the hotel business in Zurich’s old people’s center. Until a few years ago, coffee was still served in jugs. The consequence: liters of milk and coffee ended up in the drain. “Today everyone has the opportunity to choose their own coffee,” says Madlener.
So much food ends up in the trash
Expired meat or kilos of vegetables end up in the trash. According to the numbers of the Federal Office for the Environment Switzerland generates 2.6 million tons of food waste every year. At least two thirds of these are avoidable losses. This means that the food that dies would be edible at the time of disposal and if used in good time. The rest are inedible parts like bones and banana peels. Losses abroad due to imported food are not included in the 2.6 million tons.
Of the total of 2.6 million tonnes of food lost, around half is processed into recycling fertilizers and soil improvers or used as biogas for energy. 31 percent is processed as animal feed and around 21 percent is thermally recycled in waste incineration plants (the waste is incinerated and the released energy is used). A small amount of still edible food will be donated.
“Coffee waste”, as Lisa Halter, project manager for nutrition at the City of Zurich, calls it, has been able to be reduced significantly in this way. This also saves the city health centers money: “We can now offer the residents organic milk and Fairtrade coffee.”
Only 50 grams per meal should end up in the trash
For two years now there have been activities in the city of Zurich to reduce food waste and promote a more sustainable diet. The goal: By 2030, the proportion of food that ends up being rubbish should be reduced to less than ten percent. This should leave only 50 grams per meal. The kitchens of the municipal companies have not yet reached this goal. And yet the efforts are already having an effect: the remains of food have already risen from 90 to 80 grams per meal.
This reduction was achieved because the companies recorded and measured their food waste, says Lisa Halter. Each kitchen then took individual measures. This is also the case with the Grünau retirement center in Zurich Altstetten. Residents can not only order half portions, but also quarter portions. The cooks also use software that helps measure the ingredients. The program also offers a database with new recipe ideas for sustainable dishes.
Tofu curry conquers retirement homes in Zurich
Roast and mashed potatoes have long since ceased to be served in Zurich’s old people’s centers. If possible, meat consumption should be reduced. “There are, for example, vegetarian burger alternatives or Asian cuisine, which is becoming more and more popular,” says Andreas Madlener, head of the hotel business at the Grünau retirement center. For example, an Asian tofu curry or a Thai noodle dish would also be served. And how are these dishes received by the residents? “I personally like these Asian menus very much,” says a woman who lives at the Grünau senior citizens’ center.
I personally like these Asian menus very much
But the residents don’t have to do without the classics. They don’t want to replace all meat dishes with tofu. “Bratchügeli or bratwurst are an integral part of the menu.” The dialogue with the residents is important, says Andreas Madlener. If the food tastes good, there will be fewer leftovers on the plate.