Waste Prevention AustriaThe ECR Austria working group “Waste Prevention” has produced this Best Practice Guide to catalogue examples of how it is possible to avoid food waste. It is hoped that it will inspire other companies to implement similar programmes.

This best-practice catalogue is based on the results of a survey of all ECR member companies and some other selected companies which inquired into their arrangements for waste prevention. Their answers were discussed and audited by the working group in order to ascertain the various activities’ level of innovation, impact, and exemplariness. Bakeries were given special prominence because bread and bread rolls constitute a high proportion of waste in the food retail sector. Drawing together the information gathered from 22 companies and initiatives, the catalogue presents nine action fields containing a total of 33 activities that contribute to waste avoidance in the food sector. We do not expect that any of the examples described in this catalogue can simply be copied and pasted into any other company. Instead they should encourage other companies to develop their own solutions to their own unique food waste problems. The nine action fields cover the range of the food manufacturing process, from purchasing to disposal. The examples of best practice are used to formulate recommendations in terms of questions that will help companies already thinking about waste reduction to generate solutions to their own specific problems.

In a nutshell

In the food retail sector, in private households, in restaurants, and even in agriculture and food production, food is wasted. Across the value chain as a whole, 760,000 tons of food waste are disposed of yearly in Austria, of which 490,000 tons are believed to be avoidable. This amount does not even include waste from agriculture, the food production industry, wholesale grocery, or special domestic practices (e.g. self-composting, dumping in the canal,…) since sufficient data is not available from these sectors.

The ECR Austria working group “Waste Prevention” has produced this Best Practice Guide to catalogue examples of how it is possible to avoid food waste. It is hoped that it will inspire other companies to implement similar programmes.


  • How do you introduce knowledge and innovation in the field of waste management to your company? In which cases does it make sense to collaborate with other companies to produce a joint study?
    Case studies in the industry, designed for public relations, generate an accurate picture about the true scale food waste. (Action Field 1)
  • How do you obtain information about the state of the art in your sector? How important is the maintenance of equipment in your company?
    This issue is environmentally relevant because it concerns such issues as reducing the amount of breakage or extending the expiry date. (Action Field 2)
  • How do you coordinate the ordering procedure with your trading partners and how do you evaluate its accuracy?
    This action field offers an example of how it was possible for a company to support their customers by adapting their orders and thereby reduce waste by 75% compared to the previous year.(Action Field 3)
  • Which products have the highest transcriptions? In which periods do you evaluate your assortment?
    In this action field various companies describe how they evaluate their assortment, focussing on waste management and prevention. A bakery was able to reduce their returned goods by 7 – 10 %. One retailer developed a new way to offer non-compliant but still edible fruits and vegetables, which otherwise could not have been sold. (Action Field 4)
  • Which of your employee training programmes deal with the issue of waste prevention? How do you evaluate the effects of these training programmes?
    Employee training programmes can help to reduce breakages of goods in warehouses up to a monetary value of 10 %. (Action Field 5)
  • Who is responsible for the development of your products’ packaging? Which types of packaging and packaging materials are used for your products?
    The main function of packaging is the protection of goods. This action field demonstrates approaches that improve the function of packaging and thus extend the period over which they can be enjoyed. A special form of sub-packaging made it possible to extend the durability of frozen foods by 3 months. (Action Field 6)
  • Which sales campaigns and clearance sales policies does your company follow?
    One of the examples shows how one company tackles this issue and satisfies the needs of their customers. (Actions Field 7)
  • Which opportunities does your company offer for the in-house use of non-saleable but still edible foods? How does your company transfer food to social service providers?
    This chapter describes one food retailer’s policy of in-house use of non-saleable but still edible foods. 50-70% of non-saleable fruits and vegetables are still fresh enough to eat and therefore suitable for in-house usage.
    The transfer of food from retailers to social service providers is now a daily business. In the year 2013, 6,600 tons of foods were transferred in this way. (Action Field 8)
  • What initiatives is your company involved in and where do you see the advantages? What contributions does your company make to society and other companies?
    This action field puts the value of foods in the limelight, presents the campaigns that companies undertake alone or in collaboration with others, and focusses on a sensitive understanding of goods. (Action Field 9)