17 Sep 2014 Press release Resource efficiency

UNEP Launches School Food Waste Competition

Nairobi, 17 September 2014 - Students get set to compete for thousands of dollars of prizes as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launches the Think.Eat.Save Student Challenge.

The Think.Eat.Save Student Challenge aims to encourage secondary school and university students from around the world to uncover and understand - through the design and implementation of hands-on projects - how much food waste they are producing and the impact it is having on the environment and economy.

Worldwide, about one-third of all food produced gets lost or wasted in the food production and consumption systems. Almost half of this quantity is the result of retailers and consumers in industrialized regions discarding food that is fit for consumption. This equates to over 1.3 billion tonnes of food - worth around US$1 trillion, enough to feed the estimated 870 million people who are going hungry each day.

There are many examples of innovative and practical solutions already being used in education institutions around the world. LeanPath software for example, which tracks food sales and waste, has helped dining services at the University of California Berkeley campus reduce food waste in their kitchen by 43 per cent, amounting to savings of more than 1,000 pounds of food and US$1,600 per week.

Sodexo, one of the world's largest food service companies, operates trayless cafeterias on over half of its 650 college campuses. By discouraging the overloading of trays, it has reduced food waste by as much as 30 per cent.

The Think.Eat.Save Student Challenge aims to spread food waste self-awareness in more schools, with the overall objective of empowering the next generation to think differently and take action to overcome the daunting and growing problem of food waste.

"Through the students, we hope to encourage a more conscious attitude towards food planning, preparation, storage and consumption in schools as we try to build on their understanding of where their food comes from and its inherent value," said Lucita Jasmin, Think.Eat.Save. Campaign Manager, UNEP.

"Students are also an effective entry point to their families and households which are also another major source of food waste and where there is great opportunity for positive change," she added.

By undertaking one of the following activities, students or their schools can win up to US$5,000 that can be used to further implement their winning idea:


  • Investigate how much food the school wastes every year and learn about the main causes of waste


  • Take action to eliminate or reduce food waste in the school


  • Raise awareness in the school and/or community on the issue of food waste and why it should be eliminated


Entries must be submitted between 17 September and 16 November 2014.

For all terms and conditions and more information, please go to: www.thinkeatsave.org/studentchallenge