Government thinktank to tackle food waste in Denmark

The Ministry of Environment and Food has announced a thinktank to develop the country’s strategy to reduce food waste.

Government thinktank to tackle food waste in Denmark
File photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

The initiative will provide the opportunity for businesses, researchers, authorities and the agriculture and food sectors to work together to keep wastage of food to a minimum.

“If we want to do something good for our environment and our limited resources, reduction of food waste and loss of food products is a very good place to start,” environment and food minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen told Ritzau via a written comment.

Earlier this year, the ministry released official figures showing a reduction in food waste amounting to 14,000 tonnes between 2011 and 2017.

That corresponds to a reduction of eight percent per person per household across that six-year period, but the new initiative announced by the ministry will look at potential for further reduction through a number of strategies.

The thinktank will be able to advise, propose initiatives, gather information and try funding models and other methods for reducing wastage of food and food products.

Selina Juul, founder of NGO Stop Wasting Food (Stop Spild Af Mad), is one of a number of Danish and international experts to have been consulted by the ministry over the new thinktank.

“I’m very happy and let’s see where it will end, but this area has become so huge, I know there’s a huge interest, and it will be interesting to gather all the initiatives and all the good stakeholders,” Juul told The Local.

Juul said she had worked with authorities on the concept of a thinktank focused on the issue since 2011, before presenting the idea to Ellemann-Jensen’s predecessor Esben Lunde Larsen two years ago.

“He thought it was a jolly good idea, so he took it up and we worked together. Now it’s officially launched, we will start working on the collaboration and let’s see what the government will come up with,” she said, noting that key stakeholders in the thinktank were scheduled to meet with the ministry in September.

The Ministry of Environment and Food will present the thinktank at a meeting at which businesses, organisations and other stakeholders will be able to participate and join the work to reduce food waste, Ritzau reports.

READ ALSO: Danish consumers reduced food waste by 14,000 tonnes in six years


‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.