Local initiatives to combat food waste

Every year, we throw away 34 kilos of food per person. This shocking statistic raises the question: what can we do about this? Haarlem Food Future is committed to combating food waste, for example with the ‘Doggy Bag’ scheme and providing inspiration to create meals from ‘saved food’.  Read on to discover more about local initiatives and see what we can do ourselves to fight food waste.

The first week of September in the Netherlands is Zero Waste Week, a national initiative that draws attention to food waste. Of course, it is important to consider food waste about every other week of the year too, and to be aware of local initiatives and try to contribute ourselves to fight food waste as well.

“We throw away one-third of our food production every year. Bread and dairy, in particular, will go into the waste container at the end of the day,” Nicole Gorris of Haarlem Food Future says to HRLM. Haarlem Food Future is trying to make the food supply in the city more sustainable, together with residents, entrepreneurs and the municipality.

Take home a ‘Doggy Bag’

About 60 restaurants in Haarlem are now participating in the ‘Doggy Bag’ scheme, where you can take leftover food home. Another initiative is the ‘Rescued Food Switch’, which connects supermarkets in Haarlem with various social initiatives in the city. In this way, food is not thrown away on the expiry date but is sent to organisations that can then cook excellent meals with it.

Crates full of rescued food

Every day, 20 homeless families in Velserpoort receive between five and ten food crates from the PLUS supermarket in Haarlem Noord. These families cook individually.

The rest of the initiatives – which involve cooking together – came to a standstill in corona time. Nicole Gorris mentions a number of social initiatives such as Reakt, De Nieuwe Werf, Bij Bosshart and Het Leger des Heils. They also collected crates full of food themselves before the corona crisis. Reakt, for instance, used to cook with leftover food from Albert Heijn Vos Westergracht.


Nicole Gorris’ idea comes from the BuurtBuik project in Amsterdam (which translates as ‘Neighbourhood Belly’), where they have been cooking for homeless people for years with food that is past its expiry from the supermarket. In this way, you do something against waste and help the vulnerable in our society. She also wanted that in Haarlem.

Zero Waste Week

The Zero Waste Week initiative makes people more aware of their waste behaviour. Last year, for example, we threw away 34 kilos of food and drink per person. Nicole tells HRLM: “In 2016 we were at 41 kilos, so we are moving forwards; but suppose you would not waste those 34 kilos, then we would make the difference.”

What can you do yourself?

Check the description on the packages for the tenminste houdbaar tot (THT) (‘best before’) and te gebruiken tot (TGT) (‘use by’) dates. To prevent waste yourself, cook like Nicole with products that are past the ‘best before’ date or have a 35% discount sticker. This is a quality date for the supermarkets, though in general products are still good on that day. Of course, you have to be more careful with fresh products such as meat, dairy and prepacked vegetables with a ‘use-by’ date.

You can also find all kinds of tips and challenges at the website of Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling (‘TogetherAgainst Food Waste’).

Visit the website of Too Good To Go where you can get a handy app, which allows you to order a Magic Box from a nearby store with products that would otherwise have to be thrown away.

Haarlem Food Future is trying to make the food supply in the city more sustainable, together with residents, entrepreneurs and the municipality


Haarlem Food Future
Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling
Too Good To Go
Zero Waste Week

[Source: HRLM, interview with Nicole Gorris of HFF]

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