Reducing Food Waste for Climate and Air Quality

In Europe, 89 billion kilos of food are lost every year. This food waste goes hand in hand with an unnecessary consumption of resources. For example, more than 15 billion kilos of nitrogen are used unnecessarily as fertilizers. Harmful ammonia emissions released by the use of these nitrogenous fertilizers could simply be avoided if less food was thrown away. Food waste is a logistical, ecological and ethical challenges. The contribution to climate change is most impressive: if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of climate-damaging greenhouse gases. Thereby, the environmental footprint of food waste depends on what we throw away. The production of animal food produces a particularly high level of emissions. However, the equivalent of 230,000 head of cattle ends up in the garbage every year in Germany, uneaten.

EU-wide all Member States set the goal to halve food waste by 2030. To achieve this goal, different actions are needed. Consumers can contribute to a considerable reduction in ammonia and methane emissions from agriculture by simply throwing away less food. Here, activities contributing to more awareness rising for the topic are needed. Food losses also occur in food trade and industry, even if the amounts are smaller. Nevertheless, there is still a great need for improvement in these areas, as the avoidance potential is very high.

The project focuses on different activities to address the main areas where unnecessary ammonia and methane emissions could be avoided. Information materials provide consumers with support for a more conscious and low-emission handling of food. By disclosing legal barriers for food donations,  food losses can be prevented on food trade and industry level. At the same time, political demands will be developed and the responsibilities of the various actors will be made visible in order to effectively push for a halving of food waste by 2030.

Since 2021, as a member of the EU Platform for Food Waste and Loss, DUH advises the European Commission on future legislative proposals as part of the Farm to Fork strategy.


Campaign launch "Ackern für die Tonne" (Farming for the garbage bin)
May 2, 2022,Berlin, handing over demands to State Secretary Manuela Rottmann, report

Lecture on climate impact on food waste
October 13, 2021,Online-event as part of the lecture series “Münchner Klimaherbst”, lecture  (in GER)

Expert talk: Food waste starts in the field.
April 6, 2021, DUH online expert talk, documentation

Expert talk: Facts and myths cleared up - legal frameworks for food donations
Febuary 19, 2020, Berlin, organized by DUH, documentation  (in GER)

How to stop food waste

Position paper on political measures


Press work on the subject

2 May 2022: Deutsche Umwelthilfe and foodsharing e.V. make a statement against food waste with crooked vegetables in front of the Ministry of Agriculture (Link GER)

26 January 2021: Ban unfair trade practices: Deutsche Umwelthilfe calls for determined fight against causes of food waste (Link GER)

28 May 2020: Deutsche Umwelthilfe und foodsharing criticise Food Minister Klöckner: Instead of ensuring legal certainty for food saving herself, she relies on volunteer initiatives (Link GER)

9 April 2020: Food saving made more difficult by Covid-19 crisis: Deutsche Umwelthilfe and Foodsharing demand immediate legal certainty (Link GER)

Online Petitions

Farming for the bin must stop: legally binding reduction targets from farm to fork!

Far too often, fruit and vegetables do not make it to the retail shelves because of small imperfections. The problem also exists in animal husbandry: millions of animals die during their rearing due to poor housing conditions. In total, food waste at the level of agriculture has been found to be 10 times higher than previously reported! Therefore, join us in calling on the German government to implement binding reduction targets from farm to fork! 

Link to the petition (in GER).

Food waste fasting 2019: No food in the trash!

First petition and action against food waste (October 2018 – April 2019)

Join the food waste fasting 2019. Per year private households in Germany throw away around 230,000 cattle in form of sausage and meat products. Together with the film maker of "Taste the Waste" Valentin Thurn and foodsharing we stand against this stupid wastage and call on our food minister Julia Klöckner to finally become politically active against food waste.

Link to the petition (in GER), in total 55.000 signatures


Saving food must become easier: Legal certainty for food donations!

Second petition against food waste (April – September 2020)

Throwing away good, edible food due to legal uncertainties and a lack of political will is irresponsible: Ms. Klöckner, we call on you to take action now and immediately advocate legal certainty for food donations!

Link to petition (in GER)

29th of September 2020, First International Day of Awareness for Food Loss and Waste: handing over of more than 94.000 signatures to food minister Julia Klöckner



Videos & Statements

Aesthetic requirements for fruit and vegetables as a challenge for farmers

Food waste already occurs on the farms. Depending on the product, up to 30-40% of the yields do not make it to the shop shelves. The reason for this is often the high demands of retailers and consumers regarding the appearance of the products. Farmers who have to produce food for the bin lose valuable resources. In this video series, farmers, a shop owner and a regional association explain how they are affected by the issue.