The European Commission has outlined a package of measures for a sustainable use of key natural resources, designed to strengthen the resilience of EU food systems and farming. In particular, the Commission has detailed a new proposal to tackle food waste.
The EU proposes that by 2030 Member States should reduce food waste by 10% in processing and manufacturing, and by 30% jointly in retail and consumption.
As part of the proposal, the EU will look to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12.3 to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030 and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains.
The proposal described tackling food waste as a triple win that “saves food for human consumption…contributes to food security” and “lowers the environmental impact of food production and consumption”.
The EU has said that a formal review of Member States’ progress toward the goals will be made by the end of 2027. The Commission will then carry out a formal review of the progress made including the possibility to adapt targets if evidence suggests that the EU can contribute more towards the global ambition.
According to statistical monitoring of the amount of food waste in the EU, carried out by the European Union’s statistical office Eurostat, nearly 59 million tonnes of food waste is generated in the EU each year, representing an estimated loss of €132 billion.
The EU states that around 10% of all food supplied to retail, restaurants, households and food services including schools and hospitals, is wasted. Despite this, around 32.6 million people cannot afford a quality meal (including meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian equivalent) each day.
FoodDrinkEurope’s director general Dirk Jacobs said: “The Commission food waste targets are important but must not undermine efforts of Member States and actors along the food value chain that have already taken steps towards food waste reduction using a 2015 baseline, as per the UN SDGs. It will also be important for the Commission to collect robust and reliable food waste data from Member States which is representative and comparable – this applies to the 2020 baseline as well as subsequent years. This will enable our sector to meet food waste targets and facilitate effective food waste prevention strategies at national level.”
Stephen Jamieson, global head of circular economy solutions at SAP, added: “Food wastage plans set out today by the European Union is an extremely positive step forward in addressing a critical component of human-generated climate change. Food waste not only puts pressure on valuable resources, but it also contributes to environmental degradation and spotlights social inequalities. By adopting a circular economy approach, we can design food systems from the outset that eliminate waste and are regenerative in nature – ensuring food security for the long term.”
He said that by designing solutions that optimise the entire food system, waste can be minimised at every stage, “from production and distribution to consumption and disposal”.
He continued: “System change can only be effective with the right incentives, measurement approaches and standards to ensure effective collaboration and innovation that supports nature-led solutions and that’s why today’s strategy is so welcome”.
The legislative proposal will be subject to negotiation with the EU Parliament and the Council of the EU.
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