AKAFÖ Bochum: Too good for the bin

A large-scale catering company, which endeavours to provide food that is both good and cheap, pays attention to the efficient handling of food products anyhow. If, however, food waste can be reduced by a total of 25 per cent, as has been achieved by the Akademischen Förderungswerk (AKAFÖ) Bochum (Academic support foundation) at four university canteens – that is something really special.

1.2 million tonnes of kitchen and canteen waste is produced each year in NRW alone. Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at where discarding food can be avoided. In Bochum, a working group with staff from all areas of the catering industry, from the warehouse floor to service, went on the search for such opportunities. Measures came together, that reduced the amount of waste by almost 15 cubic metres per year.

Engine for progress:

  • significant reduction in food waste
  • consistent involvement of employees
  • hardly any investment required
  • a perfect example for all organisations

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Photo: AKAFÖ

The project is not being kept as an internal measure, but rather is being communicated again and again, in this case using material from the programme bearing the same name by the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture, which served as the inspiration.

Motivation and participation as success factors

The results showed one thing above all else: Big technical solutions or dramatic changes to what is on offer are not necessary. With a clear commitment on the part of management and from the coordinating working group, employees can be motivated and become fully engaged. As experts in their field, they uncover potentials and develop solutions.
Now there are special rates shortly before closing or for food from the previous day as well as better networking between the locations in order to exchange food more efficiently between locations. Above all, however, it is the many small suggestions and ideas from the employees on resource-conserving behaviour that contribute to climate protection at the AKAFÖ. For example, smaller containers to reduce the quantity of goods in circulation outside of peak hours and thus potential waste. And this no longer only concerns food. Energy waste is also being pursued. For example, vending machines are turned off, if they are not being used.

Signal Effect

The Ruhr-Uni Bochum campus, where more than 60,000 people spend their time on a daily basis, is like a small town. A facility as central as the Akademisches Förderungswerk and its flagship, the cafeteria, have a high public profile. Therefore, the communication of their climate protection efforts radiates out into society. In addition, AKAFÖ is now also part of the ECOPROFIT programme, which is the first step toward a comprehensive environmental management system.

Too good for the bin project video

Video: KlimaExpo.NRW

Photo: AKAFÖ

"Globalisation has led to an imbalance in our world. With greater sustainability, fair trade and ecological thinking, the human community on this earth could live in greater harmony, now and in the future."

Ezzedine Zerria, Catering Management

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