WRAP: Food waste should be Circular Economy Package 'priority'

The European Commission should make food waste a ‘top priority’ in its revised Circular Economy Package and set a Europe-wide commitment to reduce it, Dr Liz Goodwin OBE, Chief Executive Officer of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), has told the Resourcing the Future 2015 Conference.

Speaking to delegates at the conference in London this afternoon (25 June), Goodwin (pictured, right) highlighted that WRAP’s formal response to the recent consultation on the revised Circular Economy Package will include a call for food waste to be made ‘top priority’.

She stated: “In just 10 years, four million more tonnes of food will be needed to feed the UK population. In 15 years, we can expect a 40 per cent increase in energy demands, and in 25 years, food demand will have increased by 60 per cent. These are serious challenges for the next generation.

“There is only one way to address these challenges sustainably. We need to shift consumption habits so that we value the precious resources we have, instead of squandering them as we do now.”

Goodwin continued: “Now the commission is consulting for ideas for the ambitious package, so now is the time to be clear on what is needed. Soon, we will be providing our formal response – including the priority areas that WRAP expects from the ambitious package. Right at the top of that list is food waste.

“Globally we still waste a third of all food. It’s enough to feed those who are starving, not once, but four times over. It’s simply unacceptable. And we know it’s only going to get worse, due to rising populations and an increased appetite for Western consumption habits.

“Food waste is a global problem, and needs a collective solution to reduce and prevent it. I believe EU member states are well placed to take a leading role to meet this aim, and so I would expect an ‘ambitious’ circular economy package to include a Europe-wide commitment to achieve this.”

She added that she believes avoidable food waste could be halved in 10 years’ time.

Call for EU to adopt voluntary commitments                       

Touching on the fact that the commission is “looking at softer approaches for collective action, rather than always relying on legislation”, Goodwin stated that voluntary agreements – such as the grocery sector’s Courtauld Commitment on resource efficiency – “can be a positive force for good” if they are “done well”.

WRAP’s CEO added: “They can deliver more quickly and more cost effectively for the public purse. They encourage people to work together for a common goal and do not force people to do things they are not committed to….[so] we encourage the commission to look at such voluntary models as part of the development for a sustainable, long-term agenda.”

Goodwin added: “Just as our hosts, the Royal College of Surgeons, has at the heart of its operations, ambition, improving standards, and care, so too must the new circular economy strategy from the EU.

“It must be ambitious in that it considers all aspects of the circular economy, and is not mere tinkering around the edges. It must be about improving standards so that governments and businesses see the case for being more circular in helping to create jobs and growth. And it must be a strategy that cares, so it’s helpful, not a hindrance, and recognises the role a circular, resource-efficient economy has in creating an environment where future generations can flourish.

“But overall, what the Circular Economy Package needs to do is reinvent what’s possible [as] the circular economy allows us to not just remove the barriers, but to completely change the shape of the future.”

Find out more about the EC’s revised Circular Economy Package.

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