Browsing 'food waste' News

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A new company is taking aim at food waste in Qatar by collecting excess meals from grocery stores and restaurants and redirecting them to people in need.

Wa’hab soft-launched during the recently concluded Qatar International Food Festival, its founder Wardha Mamukoya told Doha News.

During the 11 day-event, the startup recovered some 1,000 “perfectly good, high-quality meals” that would have otherwise gone to waste, she added.

Wa'hab/Facebook

Food collected from the QIFF

The food was given to Eid Charity, which distributed it across Qatar to those who could benefit from it.

According to Mamukoya:

“Although we know for a fact that there are no cases of starvation in Qatar, we believe the less privileged can benefit from the perfectly good food being thrown away by food industries, including high-end five star hotels.”

To tackle what it calls a “mismanagement” in food distribution, Wa’hab is working to create a network that connects surplus food to those in need, she added.

The team

The company, whose Arabic name means give (in service), consists of a core team of five members, and an arsenal of young volunteers.

Thank you so much to our growing team of volunteers including @ahmed_wk430 and @bashar_mohammed13 who helped to collect surplus food from @qiff.qa to redistribute to those in need last night! You guys are awesome!! 👍👍👍 If you would like to volunteer please email your details to [email protected] and we look forward to hearing from you! #wahabqa #sharingiscaring #qatar #doha #food #share #picoftheday #photooftheday #love #help #roadto2022 @roadto2022

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It is operated by CEO Alanood Abdulaziz Jassim Al-Thani; Chief Technology Officer Ramees Muhammed Kakkodan, an expert on food handling and safety; Chief Information Officer Kim Wyatt, aka “Mama Baba Ghanoush;” and co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Shahid Abdusalam.

He is married to Mamukoya, who is also the COO of the company.

In addition to rescuing food, the Wa’hab aims to raise awareness about waste “so as to tackle the problem at its root,” Mamukoya said.

Growing problem

Qatar has one of the highest per capita food wastes in the world – up to 1.8kg per day.

And discarded food accounts for more than half of Qatar’s municipal garbage.

MPCA Photos/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Local researchers have called this practice “shocking” and “unsustainable,” given that Qatar is a desert nation that imports 90 percent of what it eats.

“Food prepared and thrown away leads to loss of capital spent on resource requirements. In addition to saving costs, Wa’hab can also reduce the need to import more food to meet the demands of the growing population,” Mamukoya said.

She added that in the long term, the startup aims to help with food wastage during the 2022 World Cup. It also hopes to expand into other Gulf countries.

“By feeding people and not landfills, Wa’hab can ensure that everyone has enough to eat and portrays Qatar in a positive light. This also can be a motivation for other GCC countries to follow suit,” she concluded.

Thoughts?

Food waste

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

With food wastage becoming a tremendous problem in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf, various organizations here have been trying to come up with ways to ameliorate the situation.

That includes charity efforts to recover uneaten food during Ramadan, and most recently, a hotel program to reduce wastage among staffers.

No Bin Day - Signage

Intercontinental Doha

Earlier this month, Intercontinental Doha – The City hotel held its first “No Bin Day” as part of its company’s Green Engage program.

The initiative aimed to raise awareness and cut food waste in the employee cafeteria in half, from the usual 10kg to 5kg per meal.

Like many restaurants in Qatar, the Intercon offers buffet meal options. But buffets are a main contributor to the country’s food wastage, as people tend to load up more food on their plate than they can eat.

Through “No Bin Day,” the hotel is trying to encourage its staffers to be more conscious about the portions they are taking, organizers said.

Throughout the day, signboards and presentations delivered statistics to employees, reminding them of the domestic and global epidemic of hunger and food waste.

In a statement, Desiree Anne Tato, hotel nurse and “No Bin Day” advocator, said:

“We did a lot of research about the problem of food wastage around the world and in learning that one-third of the world’s food production ends up in the trash, we knew we had to do something at our hotel to help change that. It’s a first step and we are thrilled with the support we received from our colleagues in this initiative.”

According to organizers, some five bags of trash containing food waste are usually filled in the staff cafeteria after each meal, but on “No Bin Day,” only around two bags were filled.

The Intercon said that it plans to regularly hold the event. But a spokeswoman said for now, the initiative is focused only internally. She added that discussions are ongoing about how to reduce food wastage throughout the hotel, and that staff has been consulting with a local environmental group to talk sustainability.

By the numbers

More than 150 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the Middle East, but it’s the Gulf countries that significantly contribute to this figure.

Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have been listed in the top 10 countries in a global index in terms of per capita solid food waste.

Qatar alone has one of the highest per capita food wastes in the world, which ranges from 1.6 to 1.8kg per day. And, with the way that things are going, Qatar’s wastage is expected to see an annual growth rate of 4.2 percent by 2032, according to Qatar Development Bank.

Qatar authorities have also been seen to step up and respond to the country’s high food wastage through the hosting of workshops and advertising.

But advocates say a stronger focus on education and awareness from the ground up is still needed.

Speaking to Doha News last month, Mohammed Abdulaziz Khalil, cofounder of EcoMena, an organization that tries to foster environmental awareness across the region, said:

“We don’t see any official campaigns or programs trying to ease the challenge or solve it. On the waste management side, there are some initiatives, but they’re more focused on a macro level rather than coming down to the society to help people understand the damage or how to resolve the challenges we have.”

Thoughts?

Although Ramadan is generally considered to be a month of self-restraint and doing without, it is often marked in Qatar and other Gulf countries with lavish hotel buffets and home dinner parties.

The result is that a quarter of all food prepared in Qatar during this month is wasted, according to EcoMena, an organization that tries to foster environmental awareness across the region.

In general, about half of the waste sitting in Qatar’s landfills is food, an EcoMena official told Doha News.

recycle

Shabina S. Khatri

Qatar has long struggled to dispose of this and other types of waste in sustainable ways. The country currently only recycles less than 10 percent of its waste, though efforts are underway to increase that number.

Environmental activist say tackling Qatar’s food waste problem will require helping people to understand the damage caused by throwing out perfectly edible food, and improving institutional efforts to rescue this food and distribute it to those who need it.

Thoughts?