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Take it home with you!

Almost a third of the food produced worldwide is thrown away. The good news is that there are lots of initiatives aimed at saving food from the waste bin.

© dpa - sustainability

Germany. At home, everyone can make sure that no food is thrown away. It's more difficult for restaurants, canteens and catering companies. Estimates say that 23 kilograms of food per guest ends up in the waste bin every year. The following projects are doing something about it.

Enjoy it – Don't waste it

In the USA, the 'doggy bag' has long been accepted practice in restaurants. Many Germans, too, no longer find it embarrassing to have food packed up if the portion served was too large for them. The Federal Ministry of Food and the gastro portal Greentable have launched a campaign called 'Enjoy it – Don't waste it' (Restlos geniessen). It motivates restaurant owners to offer their guests well-designed, recyclable 'doggy boxes'.

Surprise meal via app

It's a little more complicated to distribute tasty leftovers by app. Several startups have been working on this idea, for example Too Good to Go, MealSaver and ResQ. The principle: an app on your smartphone shows which restaurant in the vicinity is offering leftover food that can be picked up. Users pay mobile via PayPal or credit card and can then pick up their food boxes. Sometimes you can choose the contents, sometimes it's a surprise. In this way, if you're flexible, you can get a high-quality meal much more cheaply than what it says on the menu. The disadvantage is that the restaurants don't make up the boxes until just before they close, and, besides, to date such offers are only available in a few big cities.

The Cologne-based startup Foodloop has a similar approach. The idea is that supermarkets offer food at a discount via an app when the best-before date is about to expire. The project is currently in its pilot phase.

Leftovers restaurant

In Berlin, a non-profit association called 'Restlos glücklich' runs a restaurant with the same name that prepares delicious dishes from products that would otherwise have ended up in the trash. Nearby shops donate what they have been unable to sell each day.

Food Sharing

Anyone can give leftover food away via the community platform Food Sharing. Private individuals arrange the transfer among themselves. Alternatively, you can donate food in refrigerators placed in public places. There are also many volunteer food rescuers. They pick up food that can no longer be sold, but is still good, from shops and distribute it to non-profit organizations.


The Federal Association of German Foodbanks (Bundesverband Deutscher Tafeln) has a long tradition. It is a network of around 900 non-profit, local organizations which pick up food before the expiry date, collect donations from the retail trade, and distribute them to the needy.