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News at Brighter Green

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Brighter Green and Humane Society International published a policy recommendation document on animal agriculture and climate change for the COP 20 meeting in Lima, Peru. You can access the document here.

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Brighter Green released a summary of a forthcoming nature's rights paper entitled Nature's Rights: Rivers, Trees, Whales, and Apes.

Jim Harkness Positively Reviews "What's For Dinner?" 10/6/14

Jim Harkness Senior Advisor on China at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy positively reviews "What's For Dinner?" and interviews Executive Director Mia MacDonald.

Brighter Green Associate Interviewed by "Eating Animals" Director, Christopher Quinn 9/29/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou was interviewed by Eating Animals director Christopher Quinn. BG also provided Mr. Quinn Chinese contacts, including What's For Dinner? director Jian Yi, for the film.

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou interviewed by Our Hen House 7/23/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou was interviewed by Our Hen House on Brighter Green's What's For Dinner? and China screening tour in June and July 2014.

Brighter Green and Partner Global Forest Coalition Published in "Square Brackets" 7/1/14

Brighter Green and partner Global Forest Coalition published their article "Implementing Aichi Target 3 in the livestock sector" in "Square Brackets: CBD Newsletter for Civil Society".

Brighter Green Releases June 2014 Newsletter 6/27/14

Brighter Green releases its June 2014 newsletter highlighting achievements and events in the first part of 2014. You can view the newsletter here.

Brighter Green Launches "What's For Dinner?" China Screening Tour 6/15/14

Brighter Green launches the China tour of the short documentary film "What's For Dinner?". The film is screened in multiple cities through July 2014 and provinces including Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhejiang province. To learn more please click here.

Brighter Green Presents at the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption 6/11/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou presented her paper, "The Triangle: Factory Farming in the U.S., China and Brazil" in Shanghai, China at the Global Research Forum on Production and Consumption.

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Food Waste and Recycling in China: Too Easy, Too Hard (Part I)

February 7, 2013 10:45am

A half eaten plate of food. Ready for the trash?

Wanqing Zhou is a guest blogger for Brighter Green.

As a major producer and consumer of agricultural products on the planet, China faces a serious problem of food waste as it takes off towards a sustainable urbanization and industrialization. In order to mend the cycle of food, it is critical for all groups in the society to recognize the issue in an environmental context, and face the challenge collaboratively.

The Appetite: Growing and Spilling
Released two months ago, Back to 1942, a film telling the story of a famine in Henan Province during the World War II, spurred discussion about the Great Famine in early 1960s, one of the post effects of the Great Leap Forward that still affects the food consumption psyche of average Chinese. The Great Famine encouraged the world to analyze China's food security, as outlined in Lester Brown's 1995 book Who Will Feed China?

Ironically, in a university cafeteria in Beijing, one can see students throwing away about 1/3 of the food. “That’s normal,” said one student, “we seldom pack up leftovers. If nobody asks, I won’t ask. And it’s inconvenient because we don’t have a microwave oven in our dorm to reheat it.”

Then why order more than enough? “Well, it looks good to have at least the same number of dishes as the number of people. Common sense, isn’t it?” This is an example of what has become an underlying problem: the desire to appear abundant. This problem leads to extensive waste when the bill is paid with public funds.

This problem shines a light on the lack of basic components in the education system - knowledge about the Planet Earth. When dumping food becomes so easy for young people, it is extremely difficult for any society to step into sustainability.

The facts about food waste might be more disturbing than one could imagine. Recently, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers released a report on food waste, estimating that 30-50% of the annual global food production is wasted. The astonishing result covers food lost during harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as those thrown away by retailers and consumers.

In China, about 70% of national waste is food, and food makes up 61% of household waste. Researchers from China Agricultural University studied data from 2006 to 2008 and found that edible food thrown away from restaurants each year is equivalent to nearly 10% of the country’s annual crop production, which is enough to feed 200 million people. When including the waste from schools, businesses and households, the number can easily reach 300 million people.

In response to these numbers, a Clean Plate Initiative is heating up the social networks right now, advocating for zero food waste when dining out. As the movement has spread and an increasing number of netizens, including familiar faces and food businesses, have joined in. More and more people have become aware of the issue and are acting. Good news and good timing, given the coming Chinese Spring Festival is the biggest feast of the year.

Yet the story does not end at dining tables. To complete the cycle of nature, what grows from the soil needs to return to the soil, regardless of the pathway.

Food Waste and Recycling in China: Too Easy, Too Hard (Part II)

End of blog.

Photo Courtesy of CmdrGravy on Flickr