On Tuesday 8th of November, the conference ‘Combating food waste in the EU’ was held in Brussels, bringing together EU institutions, national governments, NGO’s, retailers, representatives of the food and drink industry, packaging industry, compliance schemes and waste management industry to assess and further develop winning strategies to prevent and reduce food waste in the EU.
At a time when as much as one third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted every year, the conference provided a unique opportunity to meet all the major stakeholders and policy makers, illustrating how businesses can contribute to food waste reduction and capitalize on new opportunities in this area.
The European Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, pointed ‘food’ as one of the main priorities of the Roadmap to resource efficiency in Europe.
In the European Union, 90 million tonnes of food are waste every year, which equals to 180 kg/person, the commissioner explained. Therefore, the roadmap targets a reduction of 50% of the edible food wastage in the EU by 2020.
Mr. Potočnik reflected on the required efforts of the whole food supply chain in order to achieve the settled target. ‘Businesses face many challenges to increase resource efficiency across the whole food value chain’.
Consumers are as well an important element of food waste reduction. ‘Their role in preventing food waste is critical’, said Mr. Potočnik. Consumers throw away about 25% of the food they buy. The misunderstanding of end-of-life dates is responsible for about 20% of the edible food waste. Most people are simply not aware of how much they waste. According to the Eurobarometer on ‘Attitudes of Europeans to the proper use of resource’ (February 2011), 11% of Europeans say they throw no food away, and 71% say they throw away less than 15% the food they buy.
In order to inform better consumers, the European Commission launched ‘Generation Awake’ Resource Efficiency Campaign addressing the issue of food waste and giving the right information to consumers.
Regarding the legislation and initiatives that already exist to tackle food waste, the Commissioner referred to the implementation of the Waste Framework Directive into the national Waste Prevention programmes of the Member States, highlighting the importance of prevention as the first objective established in the waste management hierarchy. Mr. Potočnik mentioned that the commission is preparing a guidance document on food waste prevention as a help for the member states, which will be published shortly.
The Commissioner mentioned the joint efforts of the European Retail Forum for Sustainability, who is currently preparing an ‘Issue Paper’ on waste minimization focusing on food waste prevention, and the European Food Sustainable Production and Consumption Round Table, addressing the issue of food waste prevention by improving the use of by-products at production level and raising consumers’ awareness and information on the best ways to avoid food waste.
Green Commerce project is aiming to help retail shops prevent waste by implementing simple technique ideas and raising awareness between small businesses and consumers.
EC Press releases: Janez Potočnik speech
European Commission launched resource efficiency campaign
Reducing food and packaging waste through retail supply chain joint work
Confusing food labeling increases food waste
EEA - Resource efficiency report
I find it interesting that this issue is to prevent wastage of food in the world, because in the times we live there is a misuse of the daily consumption of food. We must realize our consumption habits. As part of humanity not cover their basic needs