Reducing Food Waste: Towards a circular EU

The average European wastes 173 kg of food every year. Annually, this equates to around 88 million tonnes of food waste in the whole EU, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion euros. Wasting food is a concern that also the Sustainable Development Goals have incorporated, given that it represents depletion of the environment’s limited resources. 

Food waste consists of a market failure. Not only, but it is undeniable that is represents a morally wrong action, considering that 1 out of 9 people are either starving or malnourished on the planet (and it is happening under our eyes). In addition, food waste is a catastrophe for the environment, because it involves deforestation, moving of indigenous population, degradation of soil and depletion of water, all for food that is not eaten. 

The EU’s action in this area is concerned with the reduction of food waste while making labelling more transparent and preserving the safety and quality of the food. All of the elements of the food chain have to interplay and commit to these goals, if human and animal health are to be accompanied by reduction of food waste. Juncker’s agenda explicitly considered a circular economy as one of its main points, meaning an economy “where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained for as long as possible, and the generation of waste minimised”. In general, in some areas it is evident that the EU has taken measures to accomplish its objectives, a successful example being the “Plastics strategy”. In the area of food waste, there exists now a Directive aimed at reducing it, the deadline of which is 5 July 2020. However, the numbers are enormous, and it seems that the problem is far from being solved, therefore there appears to be the need and room for concrete suggestions to strengthen the sustainability of the food system.

Interested in drafting a policy proposal for the Commission concerning the issue of food waste in the EU? Make sure to watch out for more information on the application for SFM 2019, which will be available soon!