Like many of you, we always try to minimise the amount of food we throw out. Even though many of us use food recycling bins, it is quite shocking that across the EU 88 million tonnes of food are discarded every year! In fact, if you put one year of global food waste into skips, it would cover 60% of the entirety of London in skips.
We really need to do more at every level of production to reduce this problem, from how much we produce in the first place to what we do with food that is still edible but beyond the sell by date in shops.
I have been receiving a large number of emails about this topic. Earlier this year the European Commission provided this response to members of the European Parliament about what was being done to reduce waste. I have copied and pasted the response below….
QUESTION TO THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION RE ‘FOOD WASTE’
Food waste is prevalent throughout Europe — it is estimated that the EU wastes 88 million tonnes of food a year. The European Court of Auditors recently rebuked the EU’s inadequate and ineffective efforts in trying to reduce food waste, and highlighted the general lack of motivation in tackling the problem.
Parliament’s Environment Committee has just approved an own-initiative report on food waste.
1. How does the Commission intend to address the problem of food waste in the EU?
2. What measures will the EU take to raise the levels of donations of outdated food deemed safe to eat to people in need through charities, food banks and other channels?
3. What reforms in the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies must be undertaken to address the problem of food waste in the EU?
The Commission provided the following response on 22 March 2017:
The Commission is fully committed to lead EU efforts to fight food losses and waste from farm to fork and is already implementing initiatives which address many of the recommendations found in the Court of Auditors’ special report No 34/2016(1).
As part of the Circular Economy Action Plan(2), the Commission is taking initiatives to support efforts of all actors in reaching the Sustainable Development Goal food waste target(3) by: elaborating a harmonised methodology to measure food waste; developing EU guidelines to facilitate food donation as well as the safe use of former foodstuffs as feed; and examining ways to improve the use of date marking(4).
In order to be effective, food waste prevention requires action at all levels — global, EU, national, regional and local — and the engagement of all key players in the food value chain.
The new EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste(5), established to mobilise all actors to reach the global food waste reduction target, is therefore a key element of the action plan and of the overall policy response to food waste prevention. It has been established in order to accelerate progress of all actors through sharing of best practice and is expected to identify new initiatives and opportunities to address food waste prevention at EU level.
With its proposal COM(2016) 605(6), the Commission has taken steps to simplify the applicable rules in Regulation (EU) 223/2014(7) related to the financing of food donation under the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) and is also promoting this possibility among the Member States.
The mainstreaming of Sustainable Development Goals into EU policies and initiatives will facilitate further joined up action by the Commission to prevent food waste.
(1) European Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 34/2016, ‘Combating food waste: an opportunity for the EU to improve the resource efficiency of the food supply chain’
(3) United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3: halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030 and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains including post-harvest losses.
(4) A study to research date marking practices by industry and control authorities was launched in 2016 which, together with consumer research and other findings, will help inform future policy making. (https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/fw_eu_actions_tech-specs_2016-e1-024_annex2.pdf)
(6) Proposal for a REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and amending Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002, Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, EU No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1305/2013, (EU) No 1306/2013, (EU) No 1307/2013, (EU) No 1308/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014,(EU) No 283/2014, (EU) No 652/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Decision No 541/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council