Danger of EU Food Waste Targets Being Scrapped

European trialogue negotiations are currently in progress to decide on the next 13 years of EU food waste policy, and are likely to conclude at the end of November.

In March, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing targets to halve EU food waste by 2030 from farm to fork, and has been arguing in favour of these in the negotiations.

The European Council has been trying to block the European Parliament’s proposed EU food waste targets, on the grounds that the Council wants a definition and methodology for measurement of food waste to be set first. If the Council continue to block targets, there is a risk that EU food waste targets may be scrapped completely which would seriously jeopardise the EU’s ability to meet Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, a target to halve per capita food waste by 2030.

Today we can reveal that members of the FLW Platform, including Slow Food, Feedback, FoodWIN and Health Care Without Harm Europe, have issued a statement rejecting the European Council’s argument. They argue that farm to fork targets definitely can and should be set before a methodology for measurement is developed, and obstructing targets will dangerously damage the EU’s ability to meet SDG 12.3.

The FLW Platform was set up by the European Commission to help set the methodology for the EU measurement of food waste, and is scheduled to come up with a food waste methodology by 2018. If food waste targets are adopted by the EU in 2017, it will take at least 2 years for this law to be translated into member state law, by which point it would be possible to incorporate the Platform’s methodology into the targets.

As part of the EU food waste campaign founded by This Is Rubbish, 67 organisations from 20 EU countries and over 100,000 petition signatories are urgently calling on the European Council and Commission to back the European Parliament’s proposed targets to halve EU food waste by 2030, from farm to fork. They say this could be the “last chance” to save the next 13 years of EU food waste policy.

A possible compromise the Council and Commission may push for, according to leaked documents from September, is to only set EU targets to halve food waste at retailer and consumer level. But up to 59% of the EU’s food waste is estimated to occur before retail level, on farms and in the supply – up to 84 million tonnes per year – which would be side-lined if the European Council is successful in excluding this from the EU food waste targets.

Campaigners are urging people around Europe to call on the European Council to get behind the European Parliament’s farm to fork food waste targets.

Martin Bowman, EU Campaigns Manager for This Is Rubbish, and founder of the EU food waste campaign, said:

“This is the last chance for EU food waste targets. It would be a tragedy if the EU were to waste this historic opportunity to halve EU food waste – and all the associated benefits for EU carbon emissions, land and water resources, food security, and efficiency savings. The European Council’s spurious arguments completely fall apart in the face of criticisms from members of the FLW Platform, who are tasked with creating the very EU food waste methodology the Council are using as their excuse.”

“Farm to fork targets to halve EU food waste by 2030 are immensely popular – they have the support of over 100,000 people and 67 organisations from 20 EU countries, representing businesses, charities, food waste campaigners and consumer organisations. All these EU citizens are cheering the European Council not to betray the European food waste movement, and instead do the right thing and lead the world in ending food waste. The clock is ticking – there is one month left to save the EU food waste targets, as negotiations are likely to end at the end of November.”

Ursula Hudson, member of the Executive Committee of Slow Food, and member of the FLW Platform, said:

“It would be unacceptable if the EU also loses the opportunity to set food waste targets. The Commission has already missed the chance to put on the table an ambitious proposal aimed not so much at fixing a system that does not work, but rather at fighting in a structural and radical way the phenomenon of food wastage from the start, recognizing that it is the result of a lack of value attributed to the production of food and to food itself during all stages of the food chain. If the Council continues to block targets, how could we interpret this if not as one more signal of the EU’s unwillingness to really solve the problem of food waste? If “food loss and waste represent an unacceptable, unethical and immoral squandering of scarce resources and increase food insecurity”, as Commissioner Andriukaitis said, we need a strong commitment from the EU now. When it comes to the people and the planet no further delay is allowed”.

 

FLW PLATFORM MEMBERS STATEMENT – Further information

The full statement made by the FLW Platform members mentioned above can be found here.

EU FOOD WASTE CAMPAIGN – Further information:

  • 103,000 people have signed petitions to halve EU food waste.
  • 72,000 on Global Citizen 
  • 31,000 on Change
  • Over 20,000 have also taken email actions targeted at EU member state Ministries responsible for food waste, to ensure they back EU food waste targets as representatives to the European Council. The email actions were set up by This Is Rubbish in collaboration with Global Citizen and Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • 67 organisations from 20 EU countries currently support This Is Rubbish’s EU food waste campaign statement in support of farm to fork targets to halve EU food waste by 2030. The statement and its supporters are listed here.

FOOD WASTE IN EUROPE – Further information

  • An estimated 88 to 143 million tonnes of food is wasted in EU-28 every year.
  • There are about 55 million people in food poverty in Europe – and This Is Rubbish estimate that the food wasted throughout Europe could feed them over 9 times over.
  • Estimates of the EU’s pre-retail food waste range from 30-59% of the EU’s total food waste, or between 27-84 million tonnes per year – all of which would be sidelined if farm to fork targets are not adopted.
  • The Circular Economy Package would be more ambitious than the French “ban” on food waste, which narrowly focuses on retailer in-store food waste, and only obliges retailers to donate a small proportion of their surplus.
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