Take care of the food – minimize food waste - Livsmedelsverket

Take care of the food – minimize food waste

Every year, the average Swede throws away around 25 kilogrammes of perfectly edible food. The cost of that food is enough to get by on for a whole month. And that doesn’t even include food that is thrown down the sink. Besides the fact that it’s not so smart to throw money in the garbage can, such waste is bad for the environment.


One simple way of improving the environment is to cut back on the amount of food you waste. On the links to the left you’ll find advice on how to store food properly, use leftovers efficiently and learn about the real meaning of best-before dates.


Here are a few basic tips to get you going:

  • Plan your food purchases and don’t buy more than you need.

  • Use food before it spoils – keep track of what you have in the refrigerator, including those hard to reach spots way in the back.

  • Store food properly:
    - Put fresh meat, fish, dairy products and other chilled goods in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Keep your refrigerator at around 4-5° C.
    - Most fruits and vegetables last longer in the refrigerator. If you want to keep fruit in a fruit bowl on the coffe table, be sure to use them as soon as possible.
    - Freeze any items that you want to keep for an extended period of time – set your freezer at around -18° C.

  • Don’t throw food away just because the best-before date has passed; many items are just fine for a long time after that. Look, smell and taste any items that you think might be spoiling, and trust your senses. If you have stored an item according to the instructions, it will still be safe to eat even after the best-before date.

  • Be creative with leftovers - prepare a smorgasbord, use them in a new recipe or freeze them.

Using food wisely is good not only for your finances but for the environment. Producing food contributes to global warming and environmental degradation. Swedish households, restaurants and caterers throw away food equivalent to a carbon footprint of 500 000 tonnes a year*. It takes 200,000 cars to create that much pollution.**

*Based on annual avoidable household food waste of 239 00 tons (Swedish Environmental Emissions Data Network (SMED) 2011), causing 2,07 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per ton (BIOIS 2010)

**Based on average annual mileage of 12 350 km at 210 g of carbon dioxide equivalents per km (Swedish Transport Administration 2012; Transport Analysis 2012)


Updated: 01/10/2013

More about

Opens in new window Managing avoidable food waste Data, measures, and policy instruments, as seen in the Nordic countries, Great Britain and the Netherlands English summary

Opens in new window Report summaries from the Swedish Food Waste Reduction Project 2013-2015

Opens in new window Less waste - more food


Opens in new window Moving towards a Sweden with reduced food waste Interim report, English summary


Opens in new window Press release “Other people throw food away – not me”


Opens in new window Losses in primary production, English summary


Opens in new window Why do we throw away edible fruit and vegetables? Report in English

Opens in new window Waste reducing actions in the food store. Effects on quantity, economy and climate English summary

Opens in new windowActions for reduced food waste in the food industry. A perspective from the industry and food chain. English summary


Opens in new window What effect would a lower temperature in the cool chain have on food waste? English summary

Opens in new window What is discarded when durability date is passed? A microbial survey of selected refrigerated foods. English summary

Opens in new window Food waste and Trade standards in fish and shell fish. English summary

Opens in new window Losses of iceberg lettuce English summary


Opens in new window Storing food for longer lasting – scientific background document, Report nr 20/2011, The National Food Agency Summary and discussion in English

Opens in new window Avoidable food waste in households and schools, Report nr 4/2011, The National Food Agency
Summary in English

Green Growth the Nordic Way

Video about food waste from the European Comission

Waste - a video about food waste from Stockholm International water institute