EU has “no time to lose” on food waste, says WRAP

A new report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has outlined the additional action still needed to put the EU on track to halve food loss and waste by 2030.

According to the group, food waste is estimated to cost the EU economy around €143 billion per year and is responsible for 15% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with the food supply chain.

WRAP’s latest report follows the publication of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, of which a key element relates to eliminating food loss and waste to the “largest extent possible”. The new report by WRAP and WWF, titled ‘Halving food loss and waste in the EU by 2030: the major steps needed to accelerate the progress’, analyses the EU’s progress on Food Loss and Waste (FLW) and sets out clear guidance for governments, industry, researchers and NGOs on how to reach this target.

The organisation said in the last few years, the EU has taken important steps to reduce FLW, and the Commission has announced further work on the Farm to Fork Strategy, but that progress is still too slow.

The report identifies key interventions with high but still untapped potential to significantly reduce FLW across the supply chain. The main suggestions include:

Measurement – Ensure the most consistent and robust measurement of FLW across EU Member States to establish an accurate and reliable baseline

Targets – Stimulate action by member states with the announced setting in 2023 of EU targets for food waste reduction, which must be “at least as ambitious” as SGD12.3 and aim to halve FLW from farm to fork and from bait to plate by 2030

Businesses – Establish a requirement for businesses over a certain size to measure and report their firm’s food waste figures

Agriculture – Work closely with member states and provide them with tailored recommendations so that Common Agricultural Policy funds are allocated to FLW prevention actions at farm level and early processing stages

Valorisation (e.g. anaerobic digestion) – Provide funding to support research and innovation in FLW with a focus on the safe and efficient valorisation of waste streams into processed food, animal feed, chemicals or other materials.

“Reducing food waste seems to be a no-brainer,” said Ester Asin, director at WWF European Policy Office, “but we continue to put an impossible strain on our seas and land to produce food that never gets eaten.

“Such a leaky food system will never be sustainable. The EU must use all levers at hand to make sure that every actor in the food chain gets engaged and takes action.”

Richard Swannell, director at WRAP Global, commented: “There is real opportunity to make food waste reduction one of the key ways we reduce GHG emissions and put our food system on a trajectory to a more sustainable future. But time is running out – we must all do our bit, and we must act now.

“The EU is implementing policies that will help, particularly by putting measurement at the heart of the strategy. The key next step is to support member states to act quickly so as to hit the goal os halving food waste by 2030. This report outlines approaches that are proven to work and which will deliver rapid progress.”

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