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Bahrain alerts on waste food during Ramadan

Manama, June 18, 2013

About 25 per cent of food purchased in Bahrain during Ramadan will be thrown away, said a top environmentalist, adding that the waste takes up landfill space and releases harmful emissions when it breaks down.

It is estimated that between BD150 ($395) to BD250 worth of food is thrown away by each household yearly, which leads to a dangerously increasing pattern during Ramadan, according to Supreme Council for Environment waste disposal unit head Rehan Ahmed, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.

It comes as demand for meat, chicken, vegetables, fruits, dairy products and rice increases by around 50 per cent during the Holy Month.

"During Ramadan, food wastage increases by 25 per cent due to wrong habits," Ahmed said. "People think because they are fasting they should consume more food, ending up buying more and throwing it."

A typical Bahraini household cooks around six to seven elaborate dishes for Iftar, nearly half of which will be wasted, he added.

"Instead of having three meals just like in other months, meals are more during Ramadan," he said.

"This causes more food consumption and more wastage. People should be eating as they do before Ramadan - maybe even less as they have been fasting throughout the day."

The rise in income and living standards are believed to be one of the reasons for such high consumption, said Ahmed.

"People take food consumption lightly due to affordability of such items," he said. "However, with the rise in food prices it is hoped people will rethink about their consumption and shopping habits. They also tend to buy more than their normal requirements, leading to more wastage as they are possibly not used in time and end up in the bin."

Ahmed said large quantities of food were wasted during Ramadan because of "over shopping".

He explained that consumers purchased more than they needed as a result of unplanned shopping trips and "buy-one-get-one-free" promotions.

In addition, people do not set the right temperature in their fridges - meaning food rots faster. Ahmed called on consumers to develop better food habits and respect for the environment.

"Bahrain is, unfortunately, closely following the footprints of Americans and Europeans in generation of food waste, as the Britons alone throw away one third of their food which entails an enormous hidden financial and environmental cost," he said.

For every tonne of food waste avoided, people can save nearly five tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, he noted.

Ahmed added that organic food waste normally reached more than 400 tonnes per day, but this figure rocketed during Ramadan.

Food waste along with other domestic waste constitutes about 30 per cent of the total municipal waste, which is collected by private contractors and disposed at the Askar Landfill site, about 25km away from Manama.

Emissions

"People think carbon dioxide emission from cars and other vehicles is the worst form of air pollution, but methane from food - especially meat - is more hazardous," said Mr Ahmed.

"During the holy month, food waste exceeds the estimated 400 tonnes of waste per day in Bahrain. Food waste along with other domestic waste constitute 30 per cent of the total municipal waste disposed at Askar Landfill site."

Ahmed said people can alter their habits slightly by only buying what they need.

"Surveys in developed countries have shown that about 30 per cent of households were particularly wasteful, mostly busy young working people, aged 16 to 34, and families with school-age children," he added.

"It is environmentally and morally offensive that as a society we have become so casual about the basic raw materials of life."

Ahmed urged non-governmental organisations to launch awareness campaigns on food consumption, and form a service where volunteers would collect leftover food from buffets at restaurants and hotels to distribute among the poor.

"Reducing food waste is the social responsibility of everyone in Bahrain," he said. "People need to understand the urgency of this issue and lessen the amount of waste from excessive food consumption, especially during Ramadan.

"Households, restaurants, hotels and mosques can adopt initiatives that can lessen or at least manage leftovers so it is not a burden on our environment."

He also suggested the introduction of fees by the hospitality sector for meals not completed by customers, urging them to only purchase what they need. The levy will then go towards local charities, he said. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Ramadan | emissions | Food waste |

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