Sustainability

EC launches food waste consultation

The European Commission (EC) has launched a consultation on reducing food waste and creating a more sustainable food supply system in European Union (EU) member nations.

The consultation opened on 9 July 2013 and will run until 1 October. Speaking at the launch of the survey, EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said of the estimated 89 million tonnes of annual European food waste: “This is morally and economically unacceptable and is all the more horrific when you consider the true scale of the resources required to produce those 89 million tonnes! We are also wasting all those resources. There's something wrong with the system."

The EC states that it is therefore seeking to gain opinions and ideas from citizens, businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and public authorities on how to ‘reduce food waste and more generally on how to ensure our food system is using resources efficiently’.

This will culminate in the release of a Communication on Sustainable Food later in 2013.

It follows the 2011 launch of the EC’s Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe, which called for more sustainable production of food and outlined the EC’s plans to halve edible food waste by 2020.

Opinions sought in key areas

The latest consultation asks respondents for their opinions on a variety of matters, broken down into the following key areas:

  • better technical knowledge on the environmental impacts of food;
  • stimulating sustainable food production;
  • promoting sustainable food consumption;
  • reducing food waste and losses;
  • improving food policy coherence.

Respondents can also outline their ideas on the best strategies for tackling these problems, as well as at what level solutions should be adopted – be that local, national, EU-wide or global, and whether producers and retailers should be included. They are also encouraged to outline how the impacts of food production should be measured and how solutions can be promoted to citizens.

Various organisations welcomed the launch of the consultation, with trade body FoodDrinkEurope launching its own ‘Every Crumb Counts’ pledge to support the EU’s goal of halving edible food waste by 2020. Wildlife group WWF also welcomed the consultation, but urged the EU to use the results to create a ‘coherent policy framework on healthy, sustainable food consumption, something that [it] has been reluctant to tackle in the past’.

Global food waste scandal

The consultation comes amidst growing concern about the issue of food waste, with the release of several reports highlighting waste created throughout the food supply chain. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers released its 'Waste Not, Want Not' report earlier in the year, which claimed that 30 to 50 per cent of food produced is never consumed by humans. Campaign group This is Rubbish, meanwhile, recently released a report, 'Counting What Matters', claiming that the food industry is responsible for more than half of the 18-20 million tonnes of food thought to be wasted every year in the UK, and arguing that the industry must be more transparent in its reporting of food waste if this problem is to be addressed.

Read more about the EC’s food waste consultation.