Leftover food waste is expected to go up from 2.7kg per person daily to 4.5kg this Ramadan due to iftar and suhour gatherings. The excess is part of a national problem with the loss of food estimated at Dh 4 billion a year, ranking the UAE as the fourth highest in the world per capita for throwing away its surplus food.
The spike in wet foods dumped in local landfills will be countered with both a no-food-waste campaign by Dubai Carbon as well as the UAE Food Bank project, which will encourage residents to donate surplus foods at up to 100 food bank fridges across the country. The UAE Food Bank project was announced in January by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to reduce food waste and help feed people in need in the country and abroad.
Dubai Carbon, meanwhile, will launch its campaign called ‘District Waste’ in the days leading up to Ramadan later this month to help reduce food waste thrown away by families, eateries, hotels and food courts across the UAE. Ivano Ianelli, CEO of Dubai Carbon, said a surge in decomposing foods in landfill creates 25 times more harmful greenhouse gas emissions than carbon monoxide. Before in the UAE, we produce 2.7kg per day per individual. That number goes up to 4.5kg during Ramadan,” Ianelli told Gulf News in an interview.
Roughly 40 per cent of the waste going to landfills is attributed to organic food waste, he said.Ianelli said for some, tradition dictates that grand buffets of food should be readily available at iftars and suhours as a way of showing their hospitality.
“Hospitality should not focus on overindulgence, there should be a shift to the perfect [amount of food],” he averred. “Having a meal where nothing is thrown away is a winning scenario … the message is that there is no reason to throw away food.”