Well, I have to admit that trash cans are not necessarily as pretty as Thai waters. Dumpster Diving does not deal with looking at nice fish and corals, but it concerns the diving into the garbage to look for something that has been thrown away but is actually still eatable or usable... But what’s the point of that and what do companies/supermarkets do about it?

Looking for something to eat?

Almost one third of groceries that are produced globally, are thrown away afterwards. Especially in countries like the US, the waste of groceries is enormous. This is not only through private disposal but also caused by supermarkets. This is a thorn in the side of environmentalists and sustainability-interested people. Therefore, they try to fish groceries out of the trash and make use of them.

These groceries are most often still enjoyable but not sold anymore because they are (about to be) expired or do not look super appealing anymore. Supermarkets are either due to law regulations not allowed to sell them anymore after expiration or do not want to sell them anymore because they do not want to offer their customers old food.  

However, even far after the expiry date, the products can usually be consumed without problems. It’s a matter of using your senses. Yogurt for example can still be eaten a month after the best-before date if you keep it cool!

Overdressed in the trash can

Dumpster Diving is not only for the homeless or poor people but also done by students, working people and environmentalists. There are many opponents of the ‘best before date’ who want to avoid that groceries are thrown away. Therefore, the fact that only homeless people search in garbage is s prejudice.

So, let’s do this! Or not?

But why is dumpster diving then only done by so little people?  There are two problems:  First, the feeling of disgust and secondly, the legal principle that a person’s waste is seen as possession.

To remove waste from from containers is theft. The waste is, until taken to the waste disposal site, property of the supermarket. Furthermore, entering the backyard of a supermarket is illegal as this is private property.  Although there are very rare cases of people being arrested for dumpster diving, being registered due to such a crime does surely not make your life easier.

And what do companies do about it?

Clearly aware of the fact that a lot of groceries are thrown away afterwards, supermarkets try to work against this. Take for example the weggooien is zonde sticker at Albert Heijn. Through this sticker Albert Heijn gives its customers the possibility to buy groceries that are about to expire that day with a discount. Great, don't you think?

However, Albert Heijn is more the exception than the rule. Therefore, I believe that in terms of waste reduction (and therefore possibly also reducing dumpster diving) there are still a lot of opportunities. If supermarkets would not throw away food that is still good, dumpster diving would not exist. So let’s hope that this matter will find some improvement in the next years. And until then, wanna go for a dive?