ABOUT 30 percent of all food purchased in Bahrain during Ramadan will be thrown away, says a top environmentalist. This takes up landfill space and releases harmful emissions when it breaks down, warned Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife Waste Disposal Unit head and engineer Rehan Ahmed. Mr Ahmed said the demand for meat, chicken, vegetables, fruits, dairy, rice and bakery products increased by about 50pc during the holy month.
"People need to be careful with their buying habits because most people have house guests and they cook too much food and much of it goes to waste and gets put into the bin and then it goes to the landfill site," he told the GDN. "People generally buy 30pc to 40pc more household products than they need at this time. "Even hotels and restaurants over-produce and supply more than the requirement. "All this is bad for the environment because it means more handling, more transportation and more landfill area is consumed. "Mr Ahmed said organic food waste normally reached more than 300 tonnes per day, but this figure rocketed during Ramadan.
Food waste along with other domestic waste constitutes about 11pc of the total municipal waste, which is collected by private contractors and disposed at the Askar Municipal Landfill site about 25km away from Manama. "This food waste sent to the landfill produces more greenhouse gases as it breaks down," said Mr Ahmed. "People think getting into their cars and releasing carbon dioxide emissions is the worst air pollution, but methane from food - especially meat - is more hazardous. "Methane gases from food are 20pc more hazardous than greenhouse gases.
"The dumping of food and other organic waste also poses many serious environmental problems like attracting birds, proliferation of vermin and insects and occupying valuable land resources."
Mr Ahmed said a large quantity of food was wasted during Ramadan because consumers purchased more than they needed as a result of unplanned shopping trips and "buy one get one free" offers. In addition, people don't set the right temperature on their fridges - meaning food rots faster. Mr Ahmed called on consumers to develop better food habits and respect for the environment. He said the solution was to deal smartly with food items and associated waste by following simple guidelines such as eating leftover food, buying food in smaller quantities and eating food before it expires.
"Surveys in developed countries have shown that about 30pc of households were particularly wasteful, mostly busy younger working people aged 16 to 34 and families with school-age children," said Mr Ahmed. "The enormous food waste generation can be witnessed at all levels from the wholesaler to retailer and to consumers. "It is environmentally and morally considered offensive that as a society we have become so casual about the basic raw materials of life.
"Over the years, society has become more wasteful due to the rise in income, living standards and affordability. But affording (something) does not mean that wastage should increase."