FOOD WASTED

The purpose of this module is to introduce the topic of food waste, explore its environmental impact and find ways to make a positive difference in the fight to reduce the amount of food that ends up in our landfills. Through the activities below, we hope to inspire you to explore and discover how to prevent food waste – from small changes in our personal lives to more ambitious efforts that involve the whole school or the wider community.

The Problem of Food Waste

Some Background Facts to get you Started.

THE GLOBAL PROBLEM
  1. 1/3 of all food produced worldwide is wasted; that amounts to a staggering 931 million tonnes each year.
  2. Nearly 1/2 of all fruit and vegetables produced globally are wasted each year.
  3. Food waste in landfills breaks down producing methane, a greenhouse gas 28 times more damaging to the earth than carbon dioxide.
  4. 10% of developed countries’ greenhouse gas emissions come from growing food that is never eaten, that’s 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 every year.
  5. If ranked as a country, food waste would be the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world.
  6. If 1/4 of the current global food waste could be saved, it could feed 870 million hungry people.
  7. In developing countries, 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialised countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.
  8. At the retail level, large quantities of food are wasted because they don’t pass the required standards due to how they look – what we call ‘Ugly Food’!
THE HONG KONG PROBLEM
  1. Food accounts for 1/3 of all solid waste in Hong Kong.
  2. 3,353 tonnes of food is sent to landfill every day, that’s the equivalent weight of 233 double-decker buses!
  3. The remaining capacities of Hong Kong’s three landfills in Tuen Mun, Tseung Kwan O and Ta Kwu Ling are full and require extensions.
  4. 68% of food waste comes from households, 32% from companies and industries.
  5. Hong Konger’s throw away an estimated 71kg of household food waste per person every year.
  6. Supermarkets dispose of 29 tonnes of edible food every day.
  7. Wet Markets waste 14 tonnes of food daily.
  8. In 2014 the total economic loss from surplus food in Hong Kong is estimated to be in excess of $60 million per year.
What is Hong Kong doing about Food Waste?
  1. The HK government has introduced the Waste Blueprint for Hong Kong 2035, with a goal  to achieve “Waste Reduction • Resources Circulation • Zero Landfill” by 2035.
  2. Domestic food waste disposal has reduced by 17% from 0.37 kg per person per day in 2013 to 0.30 kg in 2019.
  3. The ‘Food Waste Recycling Project in Housing Estates’ was initiated by the Hong Kong Productivity Council in 2011. HK$60 million in funding was given to housing estates to install on-site composting machines.
  4. 35 housing estates were included in Phase 1 and 2 of the project, providing residents with food waste education, food waste collection and recycling activities.
  5. In August 2021 Hong Kong Government passed the new Waste Charging Scheme which will require households to pay for the rubbish they throw away
  6. By implementing charging for disposal of MSW, the Government’s goal is to gradually reduce the per capita MSW disposal by 40-45% and increase the recovery rate to about 55% 
  7. Households are estimated to spend around HK$33 to HK$55 a month for waste disposal under the new charging scheme.
  8. The Government’s Food Wise Campaign aims to encourage and facilitate the separation and collection of unavoidable food waste to enhance recycling of resources and help achieve a ‘carbon neutrality‘ target by 2050.
Waste Management in Hong Kong
  1. Hong Kong’s  3 landfills, West New Territories (WENT), South East New Territories (SENT) and North East New Territories (NENT), are being extended in order to meet Hong Kong’s needs up to the 2030s
  2. Phase 2 of the Government’s pilot Food Waste Collection Scheme commenced in July 2018, covering 70 public venues, some schools and about 120 private institutions. 
  3. An average of about 100 tonnes of food waste is collected under the scheme daily.
  4. The first Organic Waste Treatment Plant (O•PARK1) opened in 2018 and has the capacity to transform 200 tonnes of food waste per day into 14 million kilowatt-hour of electricity per year, that’s enough to support the needs of about 3000 households.
  5. The facility can also generate about 20 tonnes of compost per day as a by-product which can be used for landscaping and agriculture.

How serious is Hong Kong’s food waste problem compared with neighbouring cities?

CLICK ON THE MAP FOR FACTS ON EACH COUNTRY

INTERACTIVE ACTIVITIES

Starter Activities

Make a Word Cloud
  • Write down all the words that come to mind
    when you think of food waste.
  • Create a Word Cloud of the words you come up with using the Word Cloud Generator, or create your own.
Brainstorm: Loss vs Waste
  • Where does most food waste come from: Agricultural / Commercial / Domestic?
  • What do you think is the difference between food loss and food waste? Where does each occur?
The Food Quiz
  • Take the Food Quiz and see how much you know about food waste.
Draw a Map of Food’s Carbon Footprint
  • Pick an item of food and imagine its journey from farm to table.
Brainstorm Food Waste: The Problem
  • Why is food waste a problem?
  • What are some of the negative effects of food waste, both in Hong Kong and globally?
    RESOURCES

    Articles and Web Links

    Online Tools

    KEY SKILLS
    • Brainstorming
    • Collaboration
    • Creativity
    • Communication
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Use these activities to introduce the topic and get students thinking about the topic.

    The focus should be on what they already know about food waste.

    Encourage students to work together to share their knowledge. Students could start by working in pairs and then come together in groups to put their ideas together before sharing them with the whole class.

    Main Activities

    1. Do a Food Waste Audit

    • Estimate how much food you waste in your daily life – either in weight (e.g. 2kg) or volume (e.g. 2 garbage bags). 
    • Keep a food waste diary for a week to track the food that you throw away. Don’t make any changes to your normal routine.
    • What types of food are thrown away the most?
    • How much waste is avoidable and how much is unavoidable?
    • Compare your audit with your classmates. Organise results into food groups then create a bar chart.
    RESOURCES

    Toolbox

    FHK Resources

    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Mathematics
    • Social Sciences
    KEY SKILLS
    • Comparative Language
    • Estimation
    • Creating a Bar Chart
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Use a starter activity to get the students thinking about food waste.

    Discuss how they are going to measure the waste at home.

    Set a food waste diary as homework to be completed over the next week.

    In class students analyse their results and create a bar chart.

    Put students into groups and have them compare their results.

    Groups create their own bar chart of their collective results and present their findings to the class.

    For younger students you could follow the Love Food Hate Waste: Track your Food Footprint Activity Sheet and Resource Pack.

     

    2. Examine Food Date Labels at Home

    • Go through your cupboards and fridge at home, choose about 20 items and write down whether each product has a best before, sell-by, expiry/ use-by date and what that date is.
    • What are the differences between a best before and an expiry/use-by dates?
    • What types of food have the longest/shortest shelf life?
    • Find out if food usually gets thrown out if it’s past that date, or is the date sometimes ignored?
    • Fill in the FHK Food Waste Chart in the resources with food that is nearing its expiry/use-by date.
    • Develop a meal plan based on food in your chart to use up ingredients before they are wasted.
    • Make a video of you cooking the meal to share with the class.
    RESOURCES

    Web Links and Articles

    FHK Resources

    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Home Economics
    • Social Science
    • Media Studies
    KEY SKILLS
    • Independent Study Skills
    • Problem Solving
    • Numeracy
    • Video Editing 
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Set students the task of going through their cupboards as homework before this lesson.

    This lesson can be done with the students working independently and then comparing their ideas and solutions as a class.

    Set a time for students to show their videos and vote on the best recipe and or video.

    3.  Make a List of Food Loss and Food Waste

    • Think about the different stages of the food supply chain.
    • How does food loss occur during these different stages?
    • Create a chart with possible reasons for food loss at each stage in the supply chain. How many of them can you come up with solutions for?
    • What changes in our lives can we make to help reduce food waste in the supply chain?
    RESOURCES

    Web Links and Articles

    Videos

    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Social Science
    • Economics
    • Geography & Environmental Systems
    KEY SKILLS
    • Critical Thinking
    • Problem Solving
    TEACHING IDEAS

    This activity works best with students working in groups.

     

    4. Sharing Stories: Preserving Food

    • Interview an elder to find out how they used to preserve food when they were younger. This could be a relative, a neighbour or someone in your community.
    • Compare the ways we preserve food now to the ways of the person you interviewed.
    • What ways are still in use?
    • Are there old ways of preserving food that would be useful today?
    • Record or video your interview (make sure you ask permission first).
    • Transform your interview into a documentary or podcast by editing the best parts of your interview and adding music or sound. Share what you learned with a wider audience by posting it online.
    • The documentary/podcast could be used as an extension activity if there is not time to do it in class.
    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Social Studies
    • Humanities (History)
    • Language Arts
    • Media studies
    KEY SKILLS
    • Interview Techniques
    • Language to Compare and Contrast
    • Video / Audio Editing 
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Class discussion: students list ways of preserving food today.

    In groups, students can discuss ways that may have been used in the past. Are any of these methods still in use today?

    In pairs, students write questions to interview an elder, either in their family or in their community.

    The documentary / podcast could be used as an extension activity if there is not time to do it in class.

    5. Roleplay – Panel Discussion on Food Waste Reduction

    • Work in groups to research the topic from the point of view of your assigned role. One person from each group will then speak on the panel.
          • A farmer on ways food is lost on the farm.
          • A shop manager on problems with surplus stock.
          • A restaurant manager.
          • The manager of a food bank.
    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • English Language 
    • Economics
    • Geography & Environmental Systems
    KEY SKILLS
    • Debating
    • Functional Language
    • Expression Opinions
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Get students to work in groups to research their roles and then have one person in each group be the speaker on the panel.

    Either act as the moderator or choose one of the students.

    You can refer to the resource below for tips on how to hold the discussion.

     

    6. Conduct a Survey on Food Waste Habits

    • Interview your family/friends/teachers. 
    • How aware are they of the problem of food waste?
    • How important do they think the issue is?
    • What steps, if any, do people you know take to combat the issue?
    RESOURCES

    Toolbox

    Online Tools

    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Language Arts
    • Humanities
    • Geography & Environmental Systems
    KEY SKILLS
    • Interview Skills
    • Report Writing
    TEACHING IDEAS

    This would work well over two lessons.

    Have students prepare the questions in one lesson, then set the interviews for homework.

    Students can then present their findings and write a report in the second lesson.

    7. Create a Food Waste Top Tips Poster to Put Up Around Your School

    • Make a list of all the ways people can reduce food waste, both on a personal level and in their homes.
    • Design a poster to highlight your top ten food waste prevention tips.
    • Think about where you could distribute and place your poster. Where would it make the most impact?
    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Art and Design
    • Social Studies
    KEY SKILLS
    • Problem Solving
    • Creativity
    • Collaboration
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Students work together to come up with lists and then either continue in their group to create the poster, or work independently on their own designs.

    8. Prepare a Presentation on Food Waste

    • Write an informative and persuasive presentation to raise awareness of food waste. 
    • What facts will you include?
    • What visual aids will you use?
    • What examples will you give? 
    • Will you have a Q&A?
    • How will you inspire people to make a change?

    Extension: As a class vote on the best presentation which could then be presented to the rest of the school at Assembly.

    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Language Arts
    • Social Studies
    KEY SKILLS
    • Literacy Skills
    • Persuasive Language
    • Collaboration
    • Problem Solving
    • Presentation Skills
    • Public Speaking
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Use this activity after the students have done the Food Waste Audit (Activity 1) and the 10 Top Tips Poster (Activity 7).

    Students work in groups to write their presentation.

    Get each group to present their work to the rest of the class. Ask for the class to give peer to peer feedback.

    Get students to choose one presentation to present to the school in assembly.

    9. Role Play – Supermarket Management Team

    • What are some of the reasons for Food Waste in supermarkets?
    • Discuss ways to reduce the amount of food thrown away.
    • In a group, imagine you are part of the management team of a supermarket tasked with identifying and reducing the amount of food wasted.
    • Assign roles to your group members, think about how you will express your ideas depending on your role.
    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Language Arts
    • Drama
    • Economics
    KEY SKILLS
    • Leadership vs Group Communication Skills
    • Discussion Skills
    • Problem Solving
    • Critical Thinking
    TEACHING IDEAS

    The British Council has a great resource for holding role plays in the classroom.

    10. Conduct a Survey on Food Shopping Habits

    • Interview your parents and teachers.
    • How do they choose the products they buy?
    • Do they check the best before or expiry/use-by dates? 
    • Does this affect their choice?
    • Do they buy loose items (e.g. vegetables and fruit) or pre-packaged items? 
    • How might the way food is packaged affect the amount wasted?
    • What influences the choices they make when they buy food?
    • Analyse the data and create a slideshow to present your results to the class.
    RESOURCES

    Web Links and Articles

    Toolbox

    Online Tools

    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Language Arts
    KEY SKILLS
    • Collaboration
    • Communication
    • Analysing Data
    • Presenting
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Students work in groups to create survey questions then work together as a class to finalise the questions so that all the students are working with the same questions.

    Students can send surveys out by email or can ask people face to face. You could have different groups conducting the survey with different methods.

    Each student presents their slideshows to the rest of their group. Groups draw conclusions from the survey and present them to the class.

    11. Debate: Supermarket Buy One Get One Free Initiatives

    • How many special offers e.g. Buy One Get One Free (BOGOF) or bulk buy offers can you find in your local supermarket?
    • Why do supermarkets make these offers?
    • Debate the pros and cons of offering BOGOF and other multi-buy offers.
    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Language Arts
    • Economics
    • Social Studies
    KEY SKILLS
    • Language of Debates
    • Expressing Opinions
    • Public Speaking
    • Critical Thinking
    TEACHING IDEAS

    There are many ways to run a debate in the classroom, below are links to some of them. You may decide some suit your particular class more than others, or fit with the curriculum better.

    12. Write a Poem on the Subject of Food Waste 

    • What do you want your poem to communicate – what is its message? Is it descriptive, is it one of action, powerlessness or hope for the future?
    • Think about different types of poems (rhyming couplets, haiku, free verse etc.). What structure do you want to use?
    • Will your poem be funny, emotional, ironic or serious?
    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Language Arts
    • Creative Writing
    KEY SKILLS
    • Creativity
    • Descriptive Language
    • Poetic Devices
    • Creative Writing
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Encourage students to write from experience. If that means taking them to the bins and seeing what food waste looks like then do that!

    teachwriting.org has some great resources for teaching poetry, such as 7 Poetry Activities Students Love.

    The Poetry Society is also a good place for top tips for teaching poetry.

    13. Calculate Equivalencies

    • Look at the Feeding Hong Kong infographic in the Resources section.
    • Pick 5 or 6 new number facts relating to food waste and work out the equivalent in volume or weight to well known items or landmarks in Hong Kong.
    • If you did the Food Waste Audit (Activity No 1.) calculate how much food you were wasting over a year and use that figure to find an equivalent fact.
    • Using these facts, create an infographic to illustrate them.
    RESOURCES
    CURRICULUM LINKS
    • Mathematics
    • Art and Design
    KEY SKILLS
    • Numeracy
    • Design 
    • Creativity
    TEACHING IDEAS

    Students can work together to come up with some facts and figures.

    Use some of the data gathered in other activities such as the Food Waste Audit (Activity 1).

    Put students in pairs to come up with different ideas.

    14. Debate: The Power of ONE

    • Can one person really make a difference?
    • Does change need to be implemented on a government level to make a significant difference?
    • How might different countries or situations change the effectiveness of one person’s actions?
        CURRICULUM LINKS
        • Language Arts
        • Economics
        • Social Studies
        KEY SKILLS
        • Persuasive Language
        • Public Speaking
        • Critical Thinking
        • Expressing Opinions
        TEACHING IDEAS

        There are many ways to run a debate in the classroom, below are links to some of them. You may decide some suit your particular class more than others, or fit with the curriculum better.

        15. Create a Poster Showing a food journey

        • How does food get from the farm to the table.
        • There are many different journeys a piece of food can take to get to the table. Choose your favourite and create a poster to illustrate the journey.

        Extension: Enter your poster into the United Nations World Food Day Poster Contest.

        RESOURCES

        Web Links and Articles

        Video

        CURRICULUM LINKS
        • Art and Design
        • Geography & Environmental Systems
        KEY SKILLS
        • Creativity
        TEACHING IDEAS

        This can be done individually, in pairs or groups. You could have the whole class send in their posters or have them vote for the best 3/5/10 and send those in for the competition.

        The BBC Bitesize video in the Resources is for younger students, there are also other videos in the series.

        16. Media Project: ‘Ugly Food’

        • Choose a misshapen piece of fruit or vegetable to be the hero of your media project.
        • Create a short story, comic or documentary about your ‘Ugly Food’.
        • Choose the style of your project – comic strip, animation,  stop-motion or video.
        CURRICULUM LINKS
        • Media Studies
        • Creative Writing
        • Art & Design
        KEY SKILLS
        • Creativity
        • Media Creation
        • Collaboration
        TEACHING IDEAS

        This would suit students working together in small groups to make it an exercise in teamwork.

        17. Presentation: Food Waste Fines in Restaurants

        • Why do people waste food? What is stopping them from being less wasteful?
        • Think about what areas of Chinese culture and Hong Kong lifestyle might affect the amount of food wasted at homes and restaurants.
        • What do you think would incentivise people to reduce the amount of food they waste?
        • Do you think a Food Waste Fine – an extra charge for the customer on the food they don’t consume – in restaurants would be effective?
        • How might people react if told they have to pay a fine on the order but don’t eat in a restaurant? 
        • Choose a position on the issue of introducing a Food Waste Fine in restaurants, and prepare an argument either for or against.
        • Give a 2 minute presentation to the class.
        CURRICULUM LINKS
        • Language Arts
        • Economics
        • Social Studies
        KEY SKILLS
        • Presentation Skills
        • Public Speaking
        • Expressing Opinion
        TEACHING IDEAS

        You could have the students work together in groups to discuss the topic and gather research, then let them work on their presentations independently.

         18. Drama Project: Hong Kong Habits

        • What effect might the Chinese tradition of ‘more is better’ have on peoples food waste habits?
        • How is Hong Kong’s fast paced lifestyle relevant to food waste?
        • Write a short drama about an affluent Chinese family in Hong Kong and their attitude and behaviours to food waste.
        • How might they be persuaded to improve those behaviours?
        • Which might have more influence – ethical, moral or financial grounds?
        • You can film your play to be shown at assembly or to other classes studying the problem of food waste.
        CURRICULUM LINKS
        • Media Studies
        • Language Arts
        • Drama
        KEY SKILLS
        • Creativity
        • Collaboration
        • Imagination
        • Performance
        TEACHING IDEAS

        Students can work in groups and create their own drama, or as a class.

        It could be set in a restaurant so that there are enough roles for everyone. 

        Students should be responsible for all aspects of the drama including script writing, directing and set design (or furniture arrangement!).

        19. Essay: The Psychology of Food Waste

        • Think about what barriers people might have to reducing the amount of food they waste.
        • Do you agree that habits and emotions are important factors of food waste behaviour?
        • Do you think these barriers are true for yourself, your friends and your family?
        • How can we overcome those barriers, habits and emotions?
        • Write an essay on the psychological factors that influence how and why people waste food.
        CURRICULUM LINKS

         

        • Language Arts
        • Social Sciences
        • Psychology
        KEY SKILLS
        • Critical Thinking
        • Essay Writing
        • Appropriate Use of Language
        TEACHING IDEAS

        Students work in groups to brainstorm the topic.

        Choose an essay length appropriate for their level, age and curriculum.

        Students decide on their own essay title within the topic, e.g. Changing our habits is the only way to reduce food waste.

         20. Design: Food Packaging

        • The way food is packaged can influence how much of it is wasted at the consumer level. 

        • Think about the different ways you could design packaging to reduce food waste. 

        • Design packaging for a healthy food product of your choice. Think about the information you will have to include such as date labels, but also think about the way that design, persuasive language and shape will encourage people to choose your product.
        • Reducing the amount of packaging products are sold with is becoming increasingly important to customers today. Think about the amount of packaging you will use in your design.

        Extension: Activity No.21: Create an advertising campaign to market the product.

        CURRICULUM LINKS
        • Art & Design
        • Language Arts
        KEY SKILLS
        • Creativity
        • Collaboration
        • Problem Solving
        TEACHING IDEAS

        Students work in groups to design the packaging.

        21. Advertising

        • Create either a print, digital or TV advertising campaign to market a food product that uses innovative packaging in order to reduce food waste.
        • If you did Activity No. 20 above you can use the product from that for your campaign.
        • What will your message be, how will you market the product and the packaging?
        • Think about the power of language. Make use of the resources on the language of persuasion and advertising to create a dynamic effective advertisement.
        • “Advertising is selling Happiness” (quote from the TV Drama ‘Mad Men’) can you use that concept to sell your product? Do you agree with that concept?
        • How will you measure your success?

        CURRICULUM LINKS
        • Art & Design
        • Media Studies
        • Language Arts
        KEY SKILLS
        • Creativity
        • Collaboration
        • Problem Solving
        • Digital / Video Editing 
        TEACHING IDEAS

        Students can work in groups to design a marketing campaign for a healthy food product. Challenge students to consider how they would measure the impact of their campaign.

        Further Discussion

        sh

        1. How effective do you think a food waste charge would be in Hong Kong?
        2. In restaurants, should food waste fines should be introduced?
          If so who should pay – the customer or the restaurant?
        3. Do you think food waste will still be a major problem 20 years from now?
        4. Do the benefits of transporting food long distances outweigh the costs?
        5. How can technology help in reducing food waste in the future?

         

        food waste further discussion

        ACTION: WHAT YOU CAN DO

        At HOME

        Present a Waste Reduction Action Plan to Your Family

        • List different ways you can reduce food waste at home.
        • Choose 2 or 3 that you can implement in your daily life.
        • Using these, create an action plan.
        • What problems might you have putting your plan put into action?
        • Present your plan to your family.

        Resources

         

           

          At SCHOOL

          Write a Proposal to Reduce Food Waste in Your School

          • Research how much food is wasted at school. Interview teachers, cleaners, canteen staff and the principal.
          • Conduct a lunchtime waste audit of the school.
          • Are staff taking any measures to reduce food waste?
          • What different measures could be implemented to lessen waste?
          • Write an action plan to implement changes you think will help.
          • Using your action plan, write a proposal to present to the school Principal.

          Resources

            IN THE COMMUNITY

            Be a Bread Runner

            Sign up as volunteers to help Feeding Hong Kong collect surplus bread from bakeries  every Tuesday and Thursday evening.  This is a great way to get your family involved in saving food that would otherwise end up in a landfill to feed people in need.

            • If you are under 16 you will need to sign up with a parent / adult.
            • Choose 1-2 stores in the area of your choice.
            • On the night, turn up at your chosen store(s) at closing time, pick up the surplus bread and deliver it to our warehouse.

            Resources

            Want to do More?

            • Pledge to make no food waste for one week.
            • Enlist your family to help you achieve your goal.
            • Track you progress in a diary and/or on video.
            • How successful were you?
            • What parts did you find the hardest?

            Resources

            • Ask permission from your school to run a food waste audit. You need to have the support of the staff and students.
            • Set up an audit in the cafeteria and record the school’s daily food waste, or if your school doesn’t have a cafeteria, measure the amount of food left over from packed lunches.
            • Don’t forget to include left over food from the staff lunches.
            • You will need to get a team of volunteers to run the audit and analyse the results
            • What areas are there for improvement?
            • If possible, run a second audit a few weeks later to see if there has been any improvement.

            Resources

            • Set up a Feeding Hong Kong Club at your school and organise activities to raise awareness on food waste and hunger.

            • If you already have an Environmental Club or Committe at your school, maybe this could be a sub-section of that.

            Resources

            How to start an Environmental Club at your school
            Tips for starting and maintaining an Environmental Club

            • A food drive is a great way to collect nutritious food to those in need, while raising awareness on food waste and hunger in your community.
            • The Drive can be organised at your school or in your local community.
            • Are you a member of a local club that would be interested in being involved in the project?
            • How will you organise to have the collected food delivered to Feeding Hong Kong?
            Resources