Food Waste Around the World Episode 11: Romania
Food Waste Around the World is a Food Circle’s project aimed at providing information and raising awareness about food waste. The project is designed as a series of interviews with students coming from different countries with the aim of understanding how this issue is tackled and perceived around the world. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world creating a unique multicultural environment.
Hi and welcome to this interview Anastasia. Thank you so much for participating in our project "Food Waste Around The World". Let's start by hearing a little bit about yourself, shall we? Where are you from and what are your interests?
Thanks for having me. My name is Anastasia. I'm from Romania, from Iași (Yash) exactly. It's a city from the north eastern side of Romania. Right now I am currently working in HR in shared services. I've also studied a completely different domain area, I studied English and Romanian, and I graduated last year. I started studying Business Administration in my Masters last year but I am thinking of quitting that's another side of the story. I can say it was not what I really expected. And especially since I started working for Sapient, I started considering social businesses more. I think universities don't really consider valuable social businesses like Sapient, when talking about the Business Administration department. So I would rather learn from experiences like Sapient than learning pure theory in a university. So it kind of switched my mindset a little bit. And I can say this is the year that I want to focus on in the future, HR and especially in recruitment, what I also do in Sapient. I feel like it's a really challenging area. Dealing with different kinds of people every day gets really hard but it's also rewarding. And all in all I really enjoy my position at Sapient because I can never really get bored of it. I also feel like I have an important impact in people's lives because I contribute to them about getting a job which they might enjoy for many years in their life.
That’s great to hear and we’re so happy to have you with us! Can you tell us more about what is really happening in Romania? Do you think that food waste is a big issue there? Can you give us your insight?
I think the food waste situation is not rainbows and sunshine here in Romania. People are not really conscious about that which is a real problem. They tend to not realize the consequences, and I think this is partly because it is not brought to their attention by different organizations or the government. In my opinion, the government is not focusing on it in my opinion. That's overall what I think especially in my city, if we were to talk about it, I don't see any initiatives or maybe there are some but they're not known enough to the people.
How about the differences between the countries? Could you notice any differences compared to the Netherlands regarding food waste? If you don’t have any idea, can you compare it to Europe in general?
I cannot say I know the situation in the Netherlands well enough. In Europe I know for sure it is a big problem as well as it is here in Romania. I researched a bit and I saw in Romania we throw away approximately 6000 tons of food every day, which is a lot. We are number nine in European Union when it comes to food waste. So yeah, it's not a very happy situation for us. I don't think there are big differences in Romania from the rest of the European countries. I think we all have to work harder to solve this issue.
So let's talk a little bit about the awareness of the food waste issue. Who is doing the most work about raising awareness and education? Is it the government or is it the NGO’s and small communities?
Four years ago in 2016, the government took some kind of initiative and they wanted to make up a law regarding food waste. Basically, they applied this law to supermarkets and big retailers, so that the food that is closer to its expiration date should be donated and not thrown away. I think most Americans have this always see if I could say so. The intention was to sell the products that are closer to being expired at lower prices and in special sections. And this law was meant to make them donate to the food, and collaborate with food banks to be distributed to poor people or those who really need it. And I found out that this was supposed to be implemented in 2016, but it was actually in 2019 so it took them three years just to develop this law. And I think that things are not taken really seriously by them. It's really not a priority for them. Also, I saw some big retailers in Romania, they took some kind of initiative like Lidl and other supermarkets to create these food banks, so they could build a network and collaborate with different organizations to distribute to people in need and basically get rid of food without wasting it.
The next question is about the initiatives to prevent food waste, but you covered a lot in the last question! That’s great! But, are you aware of any specific initiatives that you haven’t mentioned by small organizations or by the government to address food waste in Romania?
I don't know about specific organizations actually. I think in my city there is one restaurant actually that is trying to deal with food waste in a more sustainable way. They distribute surplus food to people in need around the area. And they're really trying to reduce food waste. But at the national level, I cannot say those specific organizations, like social media, are not promoted enough. At least I am not aware of it. Of course there are newspapers or magazines and stats written about this, but it is simply not enough and it's not getting to the public. I think it's not promoted enough.
That’s why we work as Sapient to raise awareness and stop food waste! Hopefully things get better in Romania. Do you think that the government can do more in the future? What do you think will happen in the next 5-10 years?
I wouldn't be too hopeful about that because unfortunately in Romania, we have many, maybe too many corrupt politicians and they are following their own interests mostly. So I was really surprised to find out that they actually wanted to implement this law, because I didn't hear about it so far. And this also demonstrates how little it is promoted. And I wouldn't say that they would pay more attention to it in the following years. Maybe it would be better to have more organizations to promote this instead of the government. I think we need more of that rather than relying on the government. We need to be the voice!
At last, What do you think could be the possible next steps to be taken by the different organisations? Do you think it needs to come from the community following a bottom-up approach or top-down from the government?
I think it should come from the communities and I believe that every one of us could make a change. For example, when we share our posts as Sapient, that could make a change in our network and so on and we could influence the people in our network. And, yeah, I think it would have a beneficial impact if each of us would make a little difference and try to educate and inform those around us about it.
That's it, thank you so much for participating!
Thank you for giving me the opportunity!
Interviewer: Ceyda Gezbic
Interviewed: Anastasia Gavril
Editor and writer: Ceyda Gezbic