Hi there, we, Selina and Julia present you our findings about food wasting at weddings. The idea came us when we collected many ideas for doing a project at school. First, our idea was to make a project only about food wasting in general. After that, we found a collaboration with Praveena from Delhi, India, and she gave us the idea to compare food wasting at weddings in India compared with Switzerland. Why not? We found this idea excellent and started directly our project.
At the beginning we wanted to do a survey with some catering companies from Switzerland. We asked them per email some questions about their experience with food waste. These surveys expanded our knowledge. With our new knowledge we were able to answer the questions which Praveena gave us from her students. These questions included the comparison between Indian and Swiss weddings.
Now, we hope you enjoy reading it and we are looking forward to every feedback from you.
Some information about food waste in general
When leftover food is thrown away, there is a big loss in land, water and biodiversity. Below is a picture showing which type of food waste is most harmful to the environment. The higher the food is placed, the bigger the environmental impact per kilo. (Food waste, bafu.admin.ch)
The wedding menu will be arranged with the help of the fiancee and the restaurant or a catering company. To calculate the required amount as well as possible the number of guests, adults and children will be given to the restaurant or catering company. It also makes a difference how many gears there should be. For example, only lettuce or lettuce and soup, etc.
A served menu makes it easier to plan the required amount for a restaurant or a catering company. So they can calculate everything per person. With a buffet, it can only be done roughly. For this reason, providers prefer a served menu.
The day of the wedding
In the case of a served menu the least amount of food waste is to be expected. In the case of a buffet, the providers work with reserves. That means, they serve as less as possible and, if there is not enough, they can cook or provide more.
What happens to the leftovers?
There is a law that says that food having already been prepared may no longer be used for guests. Therefore, the leftover food is often thrown away. Another possibility for the catering companies is that the food which was intended for the guests but was only available as a reserve is later given to the customers. Another option is to give the food to organizations like “too good to go”. Food which can still be used is packed in bags and given to those in need. This means that the food does not simply have to be thrown away.
The residues are separated as much as possible, for example with the compost. The food, however, which has already been prepared, has to be thrown into the normal waste.
The law of food waste
In accordance with Article 104a of the Federal Constitution’s food security, the federal government creates the conditions for resource-conserving handling of food. As part of the promotion of innovation, the FOAG can support innovative projects with grants based on the Ordinance on the Promotion of Quality and Sustainability (QuNaV), reduce food waste, at the same time increase agricultural added value in the long term and strengthen cooperation in the value chain.
Survey with some catering companies
We asked the following questions to three catering organisations. In order to distinguish the catering organisations, each has its own colour.
bloch private dining – 16.11.2019
finger food affair – 24.11.2019
danko-catering by dank group – 29.11.2019
What amount of food is expected for a wedding?
This can not be answered exactly because it is always dependent on the customer and their wishes. How many courses (3,4, or more and buffet or not).
The amount of food depends on the duration, time and composition of the guests. For an aperitif of 2 hours you expect at finger food about 7-8 appetizers, with apéro riche from 12 per guest.
Unfortunately this is not a flat rate answer, as it depends on what menu is selected. I would like to explain it to you with the example of a pasta exchange. The customer chooses 2x different pasta variants and 3 different sauces. Per person we expect 120 gr. Pasta and 4dl. Sauce. On the other hand, it would be in a menu with appetizer, main course and dessert a smaller amount of pasta. As we expect, for example, with 50 gr. pasta, if there is meat, too (for example, roast pork 170 gr./ person) and other side dishes.
How much food is left over?
At a buffet remains the most, so I do not offer this to you. The plate service can be calculated and portioned exactly. For example, for 20 guests I need exactly 20 portions of beef filet a about 200g. At the buffet, I have to speculate and offer the guests a wider choice.
With the above experience, there are usually no or very few leftovers.
We focus on sustainability and try to avoid food wasting as much as possible. Thus we produce, if we have personnel on site, the calculated amount and always take reserve material. This allows us to reproduce locally and we can avoid producing excess food.
What happens to the rest of the food?
The food law prescribes that everything that was at a catering or the guest was no longer allowed to be used because the cold chains cannot be met. Therefore, the food must be disposed of. If I still have Food left over which has not yet been cooked (prepared for the menu) and could be chilled, I will gibe it to my customers.
The leftover food can be given to the guests, if this is not desired, the food must be disposed of. All meals served on a buffet must be disposed of in accordance with food law.
We are actively involved in the ‘too good to go’ project. In the morning after the caterings, I look at the production
with the remaining quantities and we define the packages for our Too-good-to-go customers. This is very well received and we are glad that we can pass on our food so.
If the food is disposed of, where does it go?
Cooked foods are disposed of in normal waste and uncooked in bio waste.
Some foods may be composted, others must be disposed of in household waste.
Of course, there is food that we can not pass on, which is a very small amount. Unfortunately we have to dispose of this.
Collaboration questions from Praveena
How are food wastage and Indian / Swiss weddings related?
The People tend to demand for more quantity than required and less people reach in the wedding. Also the amount of snack Is more and food wasted.
The reason for this is when the menu was calculated incorrectly or could not be calculated correctly.
The reason is in both countries the same, the menus respectively the food is calculated incorrectly.
Where does the leftover food go to?
The one fit for consumption is distributed in the poor and the rest is again wasted.
They give the leftover food either to the people who participate at the wedding, give it to organisations which pass the food on or throw it away into the bin.
In India they give the food to people which live in the streets. In fact, in Switzerland we haven’t any poor people which have to live on the street because of a really good social system. In case of that, we give it to organisations which pass it on to people with less money or to the guests.
Is the idea of limiting the expenditure in Indian / Swiss weddings right or wrong?
Limitations is a good idea but it is not getting possible as the government needs to be very firm. The people also have to take some actions on their part.
Wrong, because it’s everyone’s a big day and there shouldn’t be any limitations. Maybe there should be a limitation in food per person, because a person can’t eat more only if the buffet is extra-large.
The cultures at weddings are completely different in the way of celebrations and in what size the party is.
How do people think about food wastage?
Everyone tends to take a greater quantity of food. From poor to rich, all. If the function is of 500 people the food made for is for 700 people and people attending is about 300 only.
It depends on the person. Everyone reacts different to this scenario. Some are more interested in this topic than the others and some want to do something against it. When they cook dinner and have some food left some eat it on the next day and others just throw it away.
As in many other things, it’s unclear to people, regardless of their nation, what food wastage means to the wold. So they have to change their attitude.
Team Wetzikon Zurich: Selina and Julia
Team Delhi: Aadarshini Singh and Aastha Sarda (lead by Praveena)
Contribution of the collaboration teams from Delhi:
Food Wastage in Indian Weddings
Contribution of the collaboration teams from Antwerp:
Say no to food waste
law of food waste, bafu.admin.ch, Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft, 25.10.2019
On-topic posts on dontwastemy.energy
Food waste in supermarkets
End Food Waste – The Challenge
Could we nourish the citizens of Zurich with food waste?
☷ See the project teams here »
☵ Some words about the contributions »
2 thoughts on “foodwaste at weddings”
Hi Selina and Julia,
I thought your article was brilliant! I’m working on a project to help UK weddings create less waste and your research has been a huge help.
Thank you very much! 🙂
Hello Julia and Selina
It was very interesting to read your post. I didn’t know that it’s possible to give leftover food to organisations which give it to people who need it.
It is also nice, that your collaboration worked well.