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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1132: XVIII International Symposium on Horticultural Economics and Management

Dumpster diving in Germany

Authors:   M. Rombach, V. Bitsch, A. Nellen, M. Salomon
Keywords:   containering, food waste, in-depth interviews, qualitative content analysis, skip dipping, social and legal consequences
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1132.23
Food waste is widely discussed in the German media and in the public as an environmental and societal issue. Several civil society movements and groups aim to address the issue of food waste in a direct manner. The study examines dumpster diving, which is one of the social movements more widely acknowledged and more broadly adopted in this context. The study explores the process of dumpster diving, the knowledge of dumpster divers regarding food waste, as well as their perception of its potential legal and social consequences. In 2014, fifteen in-depth interviews with regular dumpster divers were conducted. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed through qualitative content analysis. Results show that the knowledge of food waste differs profoundly among the dumpster divers interviewed. Few have comprehensive knowledge; others perpetuate stereotypes. The dumpster diving process itself can take different forms. There are individual, as well as group divers. The organization of the dive also varies with respect to actions at the dumpster, e.g., the use or nonuse of protective equipment and the location of sorting activities. All interviewees acknowledge at least a legal gray area regarding their activities. However, most of the divers interviewed ignore the resulting legal risks. For some dumpster divers, social consequences, such as exclusion and revulsion by family members, are of more concern. Therefore, some of the divers interviewed conceal these activities. Other divers report to experience tolerance or acceptance by their social environment.

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