The scale of food loss and waste not only harms human health and nutrition but also economies and the environment. Wasted food incurs a significant financial toll, costing the global economy more than $1 trillion every year. In Sri Lanka, food waste constitutes approximately 50% of the solid waste generated in the country (IWMI, 2021). The Sri Lankan food system operates on a linear ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ model. It is estimated that Sri Lanka currently generates about 9,000 metric tonnes (MT) of municipal solid waste (MSW) per day (equivalent to about 0.41 kg per capita), with the Western Province accounting for almost 40%. Food waste is expected to be a growing problem in Sri Lanka, given the rapid urbanisation and changes in diets and lifestyles.

Food waste can be avoided in various ways or repurposed before expiry for the benefit of the food-insecure. In a bid to address the urban food waste challenge, Sri Lanka has adopted a Road Map on Urban Food Waste Prevention and Reduction for Households, Food Services, Retailers, and Wholesalers (2022). There is, subsequently, a huge necessity to work on the food value chain, particularly at the retail and consumption level, to reduce waste and losses and to reuse, through e.g., food banks, edible and good-quality food, especially during the current economic crisis where food availability and access for the most vulnerable population is a concern.

The upcoming action CIRCULAR: Promoting a Circular Economy in the Food Sector takes an integrated approach to “promote a circular economy in the food sector” in Sri Lanka, especially aiming at the reduction of food waste and loss, as well as the reduction of Single-Use-Plastic.

The  programme will be funded by the European Union (EUD-Sri Lanka), for a period of 40 months (2024-2027).

The  Objectives (outcome) of the Action are twofold:

  • Specific Objective 1 (SO1): to increase recovery, processing and supply of edible and safe food surplus and/or waste for the benefit of vulnerable consumers and/or food producers.
  • Specific Objective 2 (SO2): to enhance effectiveness of the sustainable production, distribution and consumption models related to food waste/loss and single-use plastic food packaging.

The action is currently under development in the 2024 progamming cycle.