Commission Adopts Common Food Waste Measuring Across EU

The European Commission has adopted a Delegated Act laying down a common food waste measurement methodology to support member states in quantifying food waste at each stage of the food supply chain.

Each year around 20% of food produced in the EU is lost or wasted, causing what it calls “unacceptable social, environmental and economic harm”. 

EU says it needs more data on food waste in order to address to knowledge gap and take effective action.

Based on a common definition of food waste, the new methodology aims to ensure coherent monitoring of food waste levels across the EU.

The Delegated Act defines what needs to be measured as food waste at each stage of the food supply chain and how this should be carried out. The Commission says it also provides “flexibility” as to how data collection should be carried out at national level. 

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President – “Food waste is unacceptable in a world where millions still suffer from hunger and where our natural resources, which make human life and wellbeing possible, are becoming increasingly scarce.”

With support of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and other relevant expert groups, the Commission will closely follow the implementation of the Delegated Act, organising regular exchanges with member states in order to facilitate “practical implementation and share learning”. 

Based on the methodology, member states are expected to put in place a monitoring framework with 2020 as the first reporting year in order to provide the first new data on food waste levels to the Commission by mid-2022. 

The EU reporting framework aims to help standardise reporting of food waste levels by business and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3, which aims to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chain.

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President, said: “Food waste is unacceptable in a world where millions still suffer from hunger and where our natural resources, which make human life and wellbeing possible, are becoming increasingly scarce. 

“That is why we have defined food waste prevention as a key priority in building a circular economy and a sustainable society. To deliver change, we have to be able to properly measure food waste.”

Food waste in the EU

Revised EU waste legislation, adopted in May 2018 as part of the Circular Economy Action Plan, requires member states to implement national food waste prevention programmes and to reduce food waste at each stage of the supply chain, monitor and report on food waste levels.

Preventing food waste was identified as one of priority areas in the Circular Economy Action Plan adopted by the Commission in December 2015. 

Food waste is one of ten major indicators of the Circular Economy Monitoring Framework, informing the EU how advanced it is in its transition from linear “make-use-dispose” to circularity, where loss of resources is minimised.  

Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, in charge of Health and Food Safety, said in a keynote address to the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste: “The business case for food waste prevention is convincing. Research shows a 14:1 return on investment for companies which integrated reduction of food loss and waste in their operations. 

“I count on the active participation of food business operators to measure, report and act on food waste levels. In food waste, as in life, what gets measured, gets managed. 

“To be able to implement effective national food waste prevention programmes and promote circularity in the food chain, we need to know where, what, how much and why we are losing food resources. We are making the decisive step to get this knowledge.”


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  1. This is long overdue. I’ve suspected for years that if the pundits counted only the food itself (and not the associated packaging and inedible trimmings etc) there might be a lot less than is actually claimed.

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