On average, an Estonian throws away 20 kilograms of food each year, amounting to around 63 million euros, a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute in Tallinn found.
An average household wastes 120 euros worth of food, and a household with children 200 euros worth of food each year - more than half of a monthly gross minimum wage.
Older people are less inclined to waste, while single young people and young couples are the greatest offenders.
Harri Moora, an expert at the institute, said the lack of a freeze culture is partially to blame. “We use freezers for strawberries, berries […] In Finland they freeze bread and everything else.”
Cafes, restaurants and canteens throw out around 9,000 tons of food each year. Moora said Estonians rarely ask to take leftover food home, which is a common practice in the West. He said cafes specializing on lunch should offer cut-price meals after the rush hour to get rid of excess food. Many school canteens are now offering children the chance to pick their own portions, which cuts down on waste, Moora said.
One problem is the current legislation, which makes it cheaper for companies to simply throw the food out, instead of giving leftovers to those in need. Peeter Eek of the Ministry of the Environment said the problem is known, and at least at EU level, regulations are being weighed to loosen health regulations in donating leftovers.
Editor: J.M. Laats