Commission Highlights Five Key Actions To Combat Food Waste

food-waste-eu-commissionSpeaking at the very first meeting of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste today (29 November), Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis highlighted five key areas of action to help combat food waste among member states.

The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste was established by the Commission to lead EU efforts to fight food losses and waste from farm to fork and to make progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of halving food waste by 2030.

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Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis

“This needless loss of precious natural and nutritional resources in the food value chain is unethical and immoral,” Vytenis Andriukaitis said. “It is shameful to throw away food in the world where more than eight hundred million people go to bed hungry.”

He said that by clarifying and monitoring resource flows in the food value chain, including food waste, the Commission can help to identify input materials for other industrial uses, thereby promoting bio-economy.

In the EU, around 88m tonnes of food waste are generated annually with related costs estimated at EUR 143bn. While 20% of food produced in the EU is lost or wasted, 55m people are not able to afford a quality meal every second day, the Commissioner claimed.

He said: “I am confident that this new Platform, which brings together both public and private interests, will allow many good practices like this one to emerge and help strengthen co-operation and accelerate our progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal targets for food waste reduction in the EU – in particular to cut by 50% both retail and consumer food waste by 2030.”

“By the end of my mandate in 2019, I would like the EU to be the region leading global efforts to fight food waste with active national food waste prevention programmes in place in all countries and involving all key stakeholders.”

The Commission’s Communication on the circular economy called on member states to meet those targets, expressed in the Commission’s proposal for the revision of waste legislation, which would require member states to:

  • reduce food waste at each stage of the food supply chain (including households)
  • monitor food waste levels
  • report back on progress.

The proposal also provides a legal base for adoption by the Commission of a methodology to measure food waste in the EU.

In his speech, the Commissioner highlighted five key areas of action:

  1. The Commission will elaborate a common EU methodology to measure food waste consistently in cooperation with member states and stakeholders.
  2. Surplus food that is safe should, as a priority, be made available to people in need. At the moment, it is often easier to waste food than to give it away and this is simply unacceptable. For this reason, the Commission will develop guidelines to facilitate food donation in the EU. The new guidelines will clarify – as and where necessary – the food safety and food hygiene regulations with which food business operators must comply, as well as the fiscal rules applicable to food donation.
  3. The Commission will clarify and – wherever possible – lift any barriers which prevent the safe use of food resources along the food and feed chain.
  4. The Commission will also examine ways to improve the use of date marking in the food chain; and also its understanding by consumers.
  5. The Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste will help the Commission to define the measures needed to achieve the food waste Sustainable Development Goals.

Andriukaitis concluded: “To fight food waste and promote the circular economy, we need to redesign our food supply chain, minimising waste and optimising resource use to generate value for consumers, producers and society. This requires a shared understanding of the issues at stake and close cooperation between all concerned to implement real and lasting change…

“By the end of my mandate in 2019, I would like the EU to be the region leading global efforts to fight food waste with active national food waste prevention programmes in place in all countries and involving all key stakeholders.”


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  1. Totally agree on the sentiment, a bit disappointed in the overall aims, very little substance in terms of action?
    Nothing remotely ‘circular’ about the aims of those three circular bullet points. Makes me wonder if they comprehend their own concept?
    The four key areas are okay, not fantastic. The fifth element, is there one? Seven could have been magnificent – 6) every one of us owns a bin. Mandatory food recycling at home across the EU would have begun to change human behaviour from the ground up. And 7) a focus on end-of-life (rather than all about waste production) might have shown us all something other than some rather old thinking.

  2. Hopefully, by the end of his mandate the UK will be well shot of this bunch and we’ll be developing food waste strategies that are more appropriate for us.

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