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Gulf countries among world's top generators of food waste

Last Updated: Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 13:19

Dubai: The six-member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) generate over 150 million tonnes of municipal waste every year, standing out among the world's top generators of food waste, according to a new report.

The GCC countries comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are expected to generate more waste during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, says a 2014 report released by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.

The food waste in the UAE comprises 39 percent of an average household's organic waste, but during Ramadan, as per the estimates by Dubai municipality, this ratio increases to roughly 55 percent or 1,850 tonnes.

In Bahrain, food waste is expected to exceed 400 tonnes per day during Ramadan, according to Bahrain's Supreme Council for Environment Waste Disposal.

Most GCC countries face a dearth in arable land and fresh water sources thus, depend heavily upon imported food staples to meet domestic food demand.

The UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman import over 90 percent of their food requirements and rely heavily on desalination for their potable water needs.

"While the month of Ramadan focuses on introspection, community service and expression of gratitude, the way in which many people place an emphasis on food can pose a problem," said Jeroen Vincent, COO of global waste management company averda.

"Food waste isn't new, and it most definitely isn't just an issue in the GCC, as it forms the third-largest component of generated waste by weight globally. Statistics show one third of the global food supply, around 1.3 billion tonnes, is wasted every year," Vincent said.

"High income groups usually generate more food waste per capita, primarily due to the mindset that there always needs to be enough to eat at iftar, even if most of the food ends up in the landfill," he said.

First Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 - 13:19
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