The Russian government plans to sell food waste through auctions for its further processing and use, including in feed production.
The Russian Environmental Operator (REO) and the biggest food retailer Magnit have jointly developed a comprehensive national programme of food waste management, under which food waste collected throughout the supply chain should be sold to “specialised organisations” through an electronic trading platform.
REO estimated that nearly 16 million tons of food waste is generated in Russia on average per year. This makes up roughly 30% of municipal solid waste. A lion’s portion of the waste is not managed properly, resulting in soil, water and air pollution.
Thanks to the new system, retailers will get an opportunity to sell spoiled and expired food products to specialised organisations. So far, there is no understanding of what organisation this will be, but REO disclosed that it should process the food waste, obtaining marketable raw material, which could be further re-sold to manufacturers of fertilisers and animal feed.
Magnit presented plans to begin selling expired and damaged food to feed and fertiliser producers instead of disposing them at landfills earlier this year. The company said that the pilot project of passing food waste to animal feed had already been started in Moscow.
However, Russian feed producers were generally reluctant to use food waste. Sergei Mikhnyuk, executive director of the National Feed Union, commented that it would take a lot of time and effort to ensure that feed matches quality standards in the feed industry, including those related to veterinary safety. In general, he added, it would be more convenient for feed producers not to deal with food waste at all than to use it.
Using expired food in feed and fertiliser production was legally approved in Russia in 2020. However, recently the Russian authorities had to prohibit adding even heat-treated food waste in pig feeding, citing veterinary risks.
In early November, the Russian Agricultural Ministry prohibited the use of food waste in pig feed production, with the measure slated to come into force in March of 2023. It aims to stop the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Russia. The current rules allow using food waste in pig feed production if it is boiled for at least 30 minutes.