A Holistic Approach to Tackling Food Waste Problem in Qatar
In a country that imports 90% of its food, discarded food accounts for about half of Qatar’s municipal garbage. These statistics point to the loss of millions of riyals each year, in the form of food wastage. The food in landfills rots to release greenhouse gases like methane which are responsible for the rise in temperatures which contributes to global warming.
According to Project Drawdown, the global leader in quantifying climate change strategies, reducing food waste is the single greatest solution to reverse climate change, which could draw 87 gigatons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, way ahead of a global plant-based diet, electric cars, regenerative agriculture or even utility-scale solar panels.
What is Wa’hab?
Wa’hab is fighting food waste in Qatar by implementing the 3 Rs of sustainable food waste management – Reduce by creating awareness on food waste impacts, Reuse surplus by redistribution and Recycle food waste to nutrient rich soil enhancer.
Wa’hab was the product of an inner calling, founded on a dream to utilize food to bring about greater public good. We have been able bring the community together under the umbrella of ‘Wahab Food Heroes’, a group with more than 150 volunteers from various backgrounds, religions and cultures.
Creating Mass Awareness
Schools and universities have a major role in educating children about the importance of reducing food waste. Children are our future: if we can influence them to make better choices to reduce, reuse and compost food waste, we can assure ourselves of a better planet.
Sharing Surplus Food with the Community
Redistribution of surplus food to people in need provides them with good food and helps save cost, which would otherwise be spent on buying more food. Optimal use of available food also saves Qatar’s need to import more food to meet growing demands. There is a growing interest to donate surplus food in Qatar, with more public events and food festivals reaching out to local food rescue groups than ever before.
Over the last three years, Wa’hab has been able to divert more than 200 tonnes of food from being thrown away into landfills. With clearer guidance on surplus food distribution laws, more businesses would be willing to share their excess food with the community.
Composting Unusable Food
Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic waste by converting them into valuable soil amendment. By composting unusable food like vegetable peels, coffee grinds and plate scrapings, we add essential nutrients back into the soil, thereby replenishing the soil. It is also known to help sandy soils retain water and nutrients which is key to grow the next generation of crops, and ties in directly with Qatar National Vision 2030, which aims to achieve self sufficiency in food production.
Wa’hab aims to make composting easy and accessible to all by providing an array of composting solutions: ranging from machines intended for large scale commercial institutions to small compost bins for urban homes.
Sustainability is not just about the bigger changes in society, it’s just as much about the small choices we make in our everyday lives- choosing to buy that misshaped carrot the next time you go grocery shopping goes a long way to reduce food waste and improve the livelihood of those who grow our food.