SWEDEN, Gothenburg. Each year, around 88 mill. t of food is discarded in the EU. This is something that Kristina Liljestrand, researcher at Chalmers University of Technology, wants to do something about. She is now giving companies in the food supply chain specific tools that can reduce both food waste and the environmental impact of food transport.
It is hard to grasp the true scale of food waste in Europe. In 2012, the costs associated with food waste in the EU were estimated at around 143 bn. €. This is where Kristina Liljestrand's research comes into play. In recent years, she has figured out how companies in the food supply chain can work to reduce their environment impact in terms of both food waste and emissions from transports.
Her work is unique in many ways since logistics improvement actions to combat the waste problem is a relatively unexplored area. There is no overview of ways that the companies in the supply chain can reduce waste – but this is something that Liljestrand delivers in her doctoral thesis. Through an extensive study among Swedish producers, wholesalers and retailers, she has identified nine improvement actions.
An important conclusion is that collaboration throughout the food supply chain is crucial.
In the second part of her research, Liljestrand reviewed how the environmental impact from transports in the food logistics system can be reduced. By looking at aspects such as load factor (how well the space in/on pallets, crates and trucks is utilized) and the proportion of intermodal transports (where road transport is combined with rail or sea transport), she identified which shipments are most effective to work with, and the best way of doing this.
Liljestrand has also incorporated an economic perspective in that her research also shows what savings can be made through the various measures. One thing is clear – there is money to be made by increasing the load factor and focusing more on intermodal transport.