A study by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in 2017 revealed that Indonesia ranked second in world’s biggest food waste producers; 300 kilograms per person. An amount that is able to feed 28 million people or 11 percent of the population in the country. Excess food and food waste that are disposed of at landfills also produce methane gas that has a bad impact on the environment.
The initiative to mobilize a movement that process and distribute excess food to be enjoyed by those in need was undertaken by Dedhy Trunoyudho, a wedding caterer. Together with his wife, Indah Audivtia and bussines partner, Eva Bachtiar, Trunoyudho founded Garda Pangan (food bank), through which they envision to realize a hunger-free Indonesia.
To learn more about how Garda Pangan is bringing about change in processing excess and leftover food in Indonesia, The Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists (SIEJ) conducted an interview with the COO and co-founder, Dedhy Trunoyudho.
Can you tell us how Garda Pangan was established?
It all started when I was running the family’s catering business, excess food was often disposed of. Discarding leftover food became the cheapest and quickest method to clean up. As time goes by, my wife and I often think about ways to manage food in a more sustainable way, then we trued to donate excess food. That is a concept that is quickly developing abroad. Finally I tried o apply this in Surabaya with Eva, and we initiated Garda Pangan Surabaya.
We started with raising food donation during the Idul Fitri celebration. We offered to process and distribute excess food to communities.
What has Garda Pangan done since that?
We partnered with the food industry and researchers to study the potential of food waste. For example, when there were so much crops left unsold early on when the pandemic was announced, we helped the sales so they don’t end up as waste. In food management, we also use technology that can process food waste into compost.
Garda Pangan would like to contribute in protecting the environment and overcoming food scarcity, which can trigger other problems such as malnutrition and stunting.
Tell us your journey in bringing change in excess and leftover food management?
Garda Pangan became a pioneer in food management concept that’s fairly new in Indonesia. We also try to build public awareness about the importance in food waste management for the environment. We received a positive response as our community grew.
Realizing excess food management for social, environmental, and economical interests requires support from various parties. We have a team that operates seamless ly, starting with waste sorting to the utilization of technology, so that we are able to optimize and manage excess food more responsibly.
We apply the inverted pyramid to reduce waste in the landfill. The priority at the top is reduce, by reducing food waste. We collect excess food from social events like weddings and donate food that are still fit for consumption to the people in need. Other processes include turning them into animal feed and compost. Disposal at landfills is our last option.
Aside from accepting donation in forms of excess food and volunteering, Garda Pangan also offers paid partnerships to accommodate our operational costs such as logistics and transports for volunteers to do their work.
What are the challenges in your operation?
Specifically in the processing of leftover food into animal feed, we need a huge capital expenses for an adequate facility. Another challenge related to the strict regulation that restaurants and food and drinks company adheres to, they refuse to distribute excess food due to constraints in their internal policy.
How important is public participation in reducing the bad impact of food waste?
Many people don’t yet understand the connection between food waste and the environment. Food waste that ended up in landfills will produce methane gas that has a bad impact on the environment. When this awareness is developed, they will be more interested to help manage their food leftover at home.
A responsible consumption pattern is also important. Not finishing the food we consume will leave carbon footprint. Meanwhile, to meet the continuously increasing food consumption, forests and lands are cleared for food estates and plantations. Environmental condition will worsen if we are not going to be wise with out food consumption.
What is your view on the Indonesians government’s efforts in food waste management?
Not optimum, there remain gaps. In Surabaya for example, the policy related to waste management is still focused on sorting out. While food waste that ended up in landfills has huge potentials when developed into something that has economic value, like compost or bio gas.
There are easier and cheaper concepts compared to piling up food waste in landfills. The Surabaya landfill is being managed by the private sector with a budget that is not cheap. When the government adopts our concept, for instance food and beverage industry is required to manage its excessive food and beverage products, waste can be significantly reduced.
The collaboration between the government and other parties is key in a sustainable food waste management.
How do you get the youth to participate in environmental protection movement through food waste management?
At Garda Pangan, we involve the young generation in the field work. We invite them to pick up excess food in markets and industrial areas, to help build their awareness about the importance of food waste management.
What would you like to see in food waste management efforts in Indonesia?
Our hope is to see an ecosystem that supports the establishment of a food bank in Indonesia. Even though Indonesia is the country with the third largest food consumption in the world, there are still many communities that are not able to obtain proper food. The government can urge large food and beverage corporations to donate their excessive products to the food bank, because all this time, they just get disposed of.