Poland in fifth position in EU’s food waste table
Twenty-nine-year-old Andrzej W. and his partner lived for almost a year off of food found in the trash bin of the upscale supermarket Piotr i Pawel in Muranów, sale a neighbourhood near the centre of the Polish capital Warsaw. And they ate in style.
?I can hardly name now the expensive cheeses and chocolates we found there, healing because I never buy them normally, patient they are luxury goods,? he says. ?There was everything in these bins ? vegetables, fruits, dairy, sweets, eggs, some close to expiry date, others past, eggs thrown away only because one or two were cracked, just like you see in American movies about dumpster diving.?
When he discovered Piotr i Pawel, Andrzej had occasionally retrieved vegetables and fruits thrown away at other markets in the city, but this was a whole new experience.
?I felt like Ali Baba finding the secret treasure!? he says. ?I was so happy to find all this great food, but at the same time I felt angry that so much gets wasted and sad that I cannot take it all away with me.?
So he told friends, who told other friends, and the bin gradually became the go-to place to get food for squatters, as well as homeless and poor people. When the managers of the store caught on to the practice earlier this year, they locked the bin and refused to discuss its reopening with Andrzej.
The ambit of two categories of people ? activists and the poor ? dumpster diving is not common in Poland. But the practice probably has a future this country: with a population of 38.5 million, Poland, the largest among the post-socialist states which joined the European Union, already ranks fifth in the EU when it comes to food waste.
According to data from the European Commission, 89 million tonnes of food are wasted yearly in the EU, equalling 179 kilogrammes per person. Poland alone wastes 8.9 million tonnes every year, followed by the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and France. This data, the most recent available, is from 2006 and some food activists argue that it is a gross underestimation.
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