Food waste rises 150% during the holy month due to special celebrations
The World Wildlife Fund has urged the UAE to reduce the amount of food waste produced during Ramadan by one third, while the Emirates Environmental Group blamed "lavish iftars” at restaurants.
Food accounts for 22% of total waste produced by Dubai alone, though the figure rises to 55% during the month of Ramadan, according to Dubai Municipality.
"We are all interconnected and depend on healthy and abundant food and natural resources for survival,” said Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, director-general of Emirates Nature, the UAE project office of the WWF.
“This Ramadan, we encourage residents and citizens to reflect on their eating habits and learn how to shop, cook and eat smarter,” she added.
Habiba Al Marashi, chair of Dubai-based Emirates Environmental Group, said a large part of the country's waste was due to "lavish iftars at restaurants and other social gatherings.”
The average amount of food wasted annually in the UAE is estimated to be worth AED13billion, according to Al Marashi, who said the majority of food (32%) is wasted in restaurants, while another 30% is leftovers from celebrations.
“Food providers do not have a contingency plan for the left overs and, as a result, it goes to waste. This not only creates a problem for waste management but from a nutritional point of view, the same food could be used to feed the underprivileged,” she said.
Each individual in the UAE wastes 197 kilograms of food a year, compared to 95kg and 115kg in Europe and North America respectively, according to a report released this year by Dubai Industrial Park and The Economist Intelligence Unit.