1. How do you define food waste?

Food waste is any wasted, edible food that could have been used with better meal planning or by preparing or storing food differently.

Looking at the entire food chain from primary production and industry to retail, restaurants and households, studies show that 400 to 500 million kg of food is wasted in Finland each year. The figure only includes edible food, not bones or other inedible parts. Households are the single biggest source of food waste but the
entire food chain above contributes to food loss.

2. What are the impacts of food waste?

Consumption and production of food always has an impact on the environment, contributing over 20% to the total climate impact, or carbon footprint, of all consumption. Only habitation is a heavier burden on the climate than food.

Food production has an impact on, for example, global warming, eutrophication, acidification, and biodiversity loss. In addition,
food production consumes nutrients, land area, energy, and water resources.

Of all arable land in the world,
one third is used to produce food that goes to waste. When food is lost, work in primary production goes to waste and emissions generated in the production chain have been for nothing, all the while wasting valuable raw materials.

3. How does the food waste calculator work,
and is it based on scientific data?

The food waste calculator is based on the extensive 2010–2012 Foodspill food waste diary study by Natural Resource Institute Finland. This quantitative study surveyed household food waste for a period of two weeks. In addition to measuring food waste and providing their background information, the participants answered over a hundred questions related to their shopping behaviour and food waste. Unlike, for example, a composition study, a diary study helps expose correlations behind food waste.

The questions for the food waste calculator were selected by statistical methods from a wide breadth of material to generate a food waste prediction of highest possible precision with a limited set of questions. Responses to the questionnaire have a proven correlation with total waste. There might not be direct causality, as the correlation may be due to underlying parameters. The estimated prices for foodstuffs are also based on the Foodspill study, updated with current consumer price data from Statistics Finland.

4. What is the research behind the money wasted figure?

The estimated prices for foodstuffs are based on the Foodspill study by the Natural Resource Institute Finland which used actual grocery receipts from participating families. The prices have been updated with current consumer price data from Statistics Finland.

5. How do you calculate greenhouse gas
emissions generated by food waste?

The climate impact of food loss and waste results from producing unnecessary food, especially from farming and its biological processes such as emissions from ruminants’ digestion of feed and nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils. The estimated climate impact of food waste is based on several studies on the climate impact, or carbon footprint, of various food chains by Natural Resource Institute Finland, their client assignments, and similar international studies and their research materials. The carbon footprint estimates were made on the product group level.

6. Why is carbon footprint
the only environmental impact shown?

No other scientific data is currently available that would allow us to estimate other environmental impacts of food waste.

7. What is Paulig doing
to reduce waste?

We are constantly working to improve the efficiency of our production processes and searching for new innovations to help us minimise waste. Our tortilla factories in Belgium and the UK, for example, have developed a process that allows us to return excess tortilla dough to production without affecting product quality. At our Russian roastery, coffee husks are reprocessed and made into livestock feed.

Reducing food loss and waste is part of our strategic programme to improve the efficiency of our production. It’s already implemented at one of our factories in Sweden, and we are working to bring it to our other factories. We also take food waste into consideration when designing our products and packaging. This year, we are conducting a study on generation of food loss early in the raw material supply chain together with the University of Helsinki. We want to better understand which product categories and raw materials have the highest impact on food loss and identify how to reduce waste in countries where our raw materials are produced.

For more examples on how Paulig reduces waste in their operations, please see

8. I rarely throw food away.
Why doesn’t the calculator give me good results?

The calculator gives you an average based on scientific data, so the actual food waste in your household may be somewhat higher or lower. And remember that even tiny amounts of daily food waste may add up to a surprisingly large total over a full year. For example, a median result of 20 kg/year/person equals to about 50 g of daily waste, and throwing away just two cups (2 dl) of coffee twice a week totals more than the median.
9. Does my diet affect
my food waste results?
The food waste figure factors in the amount of food waste generated, household size, diet (meat/veggie/dairy products), gender of the person buying groceries for the household, and money spent on groceries. So whether your diet is heavy on vegetables or meat affects your food waste results.

10. Why is gender relevant
for the calculator?

The type of household affects how much food waste is generated. For example, a woman living alone throws away more food than any other household type but families with children are also a major culprit. Households that buy more food and spend more money on groceries also generate more food waste. A four-person family throws away on average of 500 euros every year..

11. How can I / my company / my organisation
participate in the Less Food Waste Project?

You can start by calculating your food waste results and sharing our calculator on your social media channels. If your consumer behaviour changes, the calculator helps you assess the impact of your changes on food waste and its euro value and carbon footprint. The food waste calculator is designed to inspire everyone to reduce waste.

We encourage interested businesses and organisations to reach out to us. We at Paulig welcome your partnership ideas that could help us reduce food waste together.
12. For what purpose is the data collected?
We do not store any data input into the calculator.