MEPs have voted in favour of lifting existing restrictions on food donations and to eliminate “confusion” about “best before” and “use by” labels in a bid to cut food waste by 30% by 2025 and by 50% in 2030.
On Monday (15 May), MEPs debated a report by Croatian S&D member Biljana Borzan, which proposed a set of measures to reduce food waste in the EU by 50% by 2030.
This objective was already set out in the waste legislation package adopted in March.
The report includes several proposals to reduce food waste such as facilitating food donations. It calls on the European Commission to propose a change in the current VAT directive to explicitly authorise tax exemptions for food donations.
In addition, the report lists potential solutions to end the confusion about “best before” and “use by” labelling on food products.
“My report calls for a coordinated policy response on labelling, liability and education, as most consumers do not understand the precise meaning of “best before” and “use by” labelling.”
In the EU, food waste has been estimated at some 88m tonnes, or 173 kg per capita per year. The production and disposal of this food waste leads to the emission of 170m tonnes of CO2 and consumes 26m tonnes of resources.
“In developed countries food is wasted mostly at the end of the chain, at distribution and consumption. Everyone has a responsibility to tackle this problem”, said lead MEP Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR).
“My report calls for a coordinated policy response on labelling, liability and education, as most consumers do not understand the precise meaning of “best before” and “use by” labelling.
“Moreover, we should address the shortcomings of existing EU legislation where it hinders food donations”, she added.
Her resolution was adopted on Tuesday (16 May) by 623 votes to 33, with 20 abstentions.
MEPs call on EU countries to achieve food waste cuts of 30% by 2025 and a further 50% by 2030 (compared to 2014) – an objective Parliament introduced in waste legislation voted in March.
National authorities and stakeholders should do more to help consumers to understand “use by” and “best before” labels, including the fact that food can be eaten after the “best before” date, the reports says.
The Commission will have to assess the possible benefits of removing certain dates for products without any risk to public health or the environment.
The Commission should also propose a change in the VAT Directive that would explicitly authorise tax exemptions on food donations.
The EU Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) should be used to finance the cost of collecting, transporting, storing and distributing food donations.