The film maker Valentin Thurn became internationally famous for Taste the Waste, a cinema documentary about food waste. The film received the Environmental Media Prize from the German Environmental Organisation as well as 15 further awards, both in Germany and elsewhere. In 2011 he wrote a book on the subject of food waste, entitled Die Essensvernichter ( The Food Destroyers) which the German magazine Der Spiegel included in its list of bestsellers, and in 2013 his sequel film Die Essensretter (The Food Savers) also won numerous international prizes, including the Econsense Journalist Award. His latest cinema film – 10 Billion: What’s on Your Plate? – also received a large number of awards, including the German Nature Film Award 2015. His film tie-in Harte Kost (Hard Food) was given the Salus Media Award in 2015. Over the last 20 years Valentin Thurn created more than 40 documentaries for the German television stations ARD, ZDF and ARTE, including many award-winning films, such as I am Al-Qaeda (nominated for the German Television Award). Valentin Thurn is chairman of the society Taste of Heimat (Taste of Homeland). In 2012 he founded the Food Sharing Society, and in 1993 he and journalists from over 50 countries set up the International Federation of Environmental Journalists.
1. Which aspects of the food waste issue do you see as particularly important?
We can only successfully combat food waste if we understand that it requires collaboration along entire production and delivery chains, right down to the consumer.
2. What do you think is the best way to make improvements in this area, in particular?
Governments should create a framework in which it is worthwhile for companies to find alternatives. Primarily this should be the avoidance of overproduction, secondly recycling (selling on secondary markets or distribution through food-sharing panels or initiatives), thirdly use as animal feed (with the removal of the EU ban), and only finally, in fourth place, if there are no other options, energy recovery through biogas plants.
3. Can you see any positive developments in society in these areas yet?
Many companies are looking for solutions, ranging from small start-ups to large corporations. What should give us hope, in particular, is that so many young people are taking an interest in ways to reduce food waste.
4. What institutional measures would you like to see in the future?
Waste disposal charges will need to be increased, so that it becomes more expensive for companies to throw away food. And any positive action should be awarded with tax relief.
5. How do you see the role of the SAVE FOOD Initiative in the combat against food loss and waste?
As SAVE FOOD has such close links with the packaging industry and UN organisations, it’s in a position to find solutions to post-harvest waste in developing countries. This should not just be a matter of better packaging and preservation, but it should also include the local production of packaging, where possible.