As some 88 million tonnes of food are wasted in the EU every year, equivalent to 173 kilos per person, the European Parliament is working on new measures to cut food waste in the European Union, EU, by 50 percent.
Food is lost and wasted along the entire supply chain, from farms to processing and manufacturing to shops, restaurants and at home. However, 53 percent of the total food in the EU is wasted by households. Processing accounts for about 19 percent.
Consumers are often unaware of the issue or its causes. According to a Eurobarometer survey, date markings on food products are poorly understood, even though nearly six out 10 Europeans say they always check “best before” and “use by” labels.
Food waste not only means that valuable and often scarce resources, such as water, soil, and energy are lost, but it also contributes to climate change. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO, food waste has a global carbon footprint of about 8 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. For every kilo of food produced, 4.5 kilos of CO2 are released into the atmosphere.
There is also the ethical aspect: FAO says about 793 million people in the world are malnourished. According to Eurostat, 55 million people (9.6 percent of the EU’s population), were unable to afford a quality meal every second day in 2014.
On Monday, 15th May, MEPs will debate a report which proposes a set of measures to reduce food waste in the EU by 50 percent by 2030. This objective was already outlined in the waste legislation package adopted in March.
The report also includes several proposals to reduce food waste, such as facilitating food donations. The report calls on the European Commission to propose a change in the current VAT directive to explicitly authorise tax exemptions for food donations. Donations reduce food waste while helping people in need at the same time.
In addition, the report lists solutions to end the confusion about “best before” and “use by” labelling on food products.