Assembly of European Horticultural Regions

EU projects

LOWINFOOD : multi-actor design of low-waste food value chains

Learn more about results of a study on  the composition of plate waste from two elementary schools Sweden.

AREFLH is a partner of LOWINFOOD, a project that  focuses on “Multi-actor design of low-waste food value chains through the demonstration of innovative solutions to reduce food loss and waste”. LOWINFOOD supports the reduction of the loss and waste in the European Union by demonstrating innovative solutions following a multi-actor approach along the entire value chain.  


A group of research partners of LOWINFOOD has recently published an article in the scientific journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, in which they assess the composition of school meal waste and associated carbon footprint and nutrient loss. They analysed the composition of plate waste from almost 5,000 meals in two elementary schools in Uppsala, Sweden. They identified the wasted food components and quantities. From this analysis, they calculated the carbon footprint, as well as the nutrient loss from wasting it.


In Sweden, school canteens generate 9,200 out of the 33,000 tones of food wasted country level. As the country is committed to reducing the large economic, environmental, and social impact this causes, it has set the target of reducing by 20% the food wasted between 2020 and 2025.

Reducing this type of waste is highly because most of it is edible food that has undergone resource-intensive preparation, and it represents a missed opportunity to nourish school children, as school meals in Sweden are required by law to be nutritious, and the Swedish Food Agency has releveled gaps in nutrient intake by Swedish school children. Plate waste may serve as an indicator that nutrition’s food is left uneaten, resulting in nutrients losses and unnecessary environmental burdens.


The results obtained indicated that each kilogram of food waste was equivalent to 1 kilogram of CO2 emission. However, school meals comprise diverse food components such as carbohydrates (potato, pasta, rice), proteins (legumes, fish, chickens, beef), vegetables, bread, fruit and dairy. Having knowledge of the components discarded facilitates the assessment of the carbon footprint and nutrient composition of the meals wasted. This may help design food waste prevention measures and assess their sustainability, a crucial point for policymakers in prioritizing preventions actions.


The researchers revealed that staple food (pasta, potato and rice) comprised 59% of total plate waste, but only 24 % of the carbon footprint. On the other hand, animal -based foods (chicken, pork beef, fish, cheese and also eggs and pancakes) were wasted to only a minor degree, corresponding to 10 % of the total plate waste but were responsible for 63% of the total carbon footprint.


To read the inter article click here


For more information about the project, visit the following media :


This project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No.101000439



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