In 2014, Peter Haugelund approached the Roskilde Festival with an ambitious plan — to end food waste at the festival. His aim was to take discarded edible food from the festival’s over 100 food stalls and distribute it among homeless and other marginalised groups in Denmark.
The festival’s administration believed that around three tonnes could be collected, but by the end of the festival the project had gone far beyond expectations.
“The festival thought I was being too ambitious when I told them we could collect 12 tonnes, but by the end we had accumulated and distributed around 25 tonnes. Despite our success we faced plenty of challenges, but we were able to get the help of 80 volunteers, half of which were chefs who came from culinary schools and Michelin restaurants alike.”
Now in its third year with the festival Haugelund continues to expand his growing project and last year around 35 tonnes were collected from the festival and delivered to women’s and homeless shelters.
Since its founding, Det Runde Bord has received several awards, including the European Festival Award for being Excellent and Roskilde Festival’s own environmental award.
“Food waste is a very serious problem, we throw out a ridiculous amount of food each year, and if you consider that food production represents 20 percent of CO2 emissions then it becomes clear just how mad it is,” he explains.
According to figures from the Ministry of Environment and Food, 540.000 tonnes of edible food are thrown away every – equivalent to 8.4 billion kroner. Initiatives like Det Runde Bord has drawn attention to the problem, which Haugelund says is at least as important as the act of collecting and distributing food.
“It is very important for us that people understand that we are a symptom of a problem, and that problem is both of a social and environmental nature. We are quite good when it comes to the social aspect, but we want to extend our environmental work to farmers and food producers.”
During Roskilde Festival, Det Runde Bord held a conference with some of Denmark’s most prominent figures within the food industry to discuss ways of tackling food waste. Haugelund believes his organisation’s increasing profile has helped create a debate about the issue.
“I think our work has definitely helped bring attention to the problem. During our first year alone there were around 250 news stories about us, and similar programs have now been started in seven other EU nations. We are certain that all the good stories about us help raise awareness.”
Det Runde Bord operates year round and in 2015 the organisation collected over 200 tonnes of food. Besides Roskilde Festival, the project has been extended to several other festivals including Grøn Concert, and recently a deal was struck with the Danish Sports Federation (Danmarks Idrætsforbund), which allows them to collect food from all sporting events across the country.
Haugelund is positive that the project will continue to expand in the future, and he is certain he will be back for Roskilde Festival 2017, even though that means he won’t get to enjoy any of the concerts.
“I managed to catch about ten minutes of Mø and ten minutes of Damon Albarn, other than that I’ve spent the last fourteen days working 16 hour days, so this has been a long festival.” M