UAE launches drive to cut food waste in schools

The Waste-free Schools initiative will support the country's wider environmental goals

Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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A UAE environmental task force has launched a drive to cut food waste in dozens of schools across the country.

The Waste-free Schools campaign aims to educate pupils and staff on the steps they can take to bolster the environment.

Reducing food loss is key to the Emirate's long-term vision to protect the planet.

The strategy was set out at the second meeting of the UAE Council for Environmental and Municipal Work, chaired by Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Minister of State for Food Security.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has signed an agreement with Emirates Schools Established, the UAE's public education operator, Abu Dhabi Waste Management Company, more widely known as Tadweer, and Bee’ah Group to implement the plan at 63 selected schools.

It was not revealed when the project will come into effect.

“Through the Waste-free Schools project, we will work to raise environmental awareness among the targeted segments," said Mohamed Al Qassim, director general of Emirates Schools Establishment.

"The project’s mission aligns with the UAE’s direction to incorporate best practices in environmental sustainability across vital sectors."

The scheme will involve workshops for teaching staff and pupils on the practice of integrated waste management.

Waste separation bins and high-tech waste management solutions will also be introduced.

UAE determined to reduce food waste

Ms Al Mheiri said food loss and waste is a global challenge, with 30 per cent of global food production — equivalent to 1.3 billion tonnes — wasted annually, citing United Nations figures.

Discarded food is typically sent to landfill and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, further harming the environment.

In March, President Sheikh Mohamed — in his previous capacity as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi — attended the launch of a nationwide campaign to reduce food waste.

The food loss and waste initiative, called Ne'ma — Arabic for blessing — encourages public and private sector entities to collectively address food waste and improve responsible consumption.

Ms Al Mheri said in 2020 that the Emirates intended to reduce food waste by 50 per cent by 2030.

“Because the UAE imports 90 per cent of its food, food safety and security are the top priority,” she said.

Updated: December 24, 2022, 12:33 PM