EU wants to reduce food wastage. However, every proposal put forward has been rejected by member states, who refused any coercive measure to be enforced.
A 2011 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization revealed that nearly a third of all the food produced for human consumption was wasted. Today, about 1.3 billion tons of food is still discarded every year. If on average less food is wasted in the EU, there is nothing to boast about. Europeans still throw away about 20% of the food they buy – that is 88 million tons wasted annually.
“The same amount would feed the 55 million undernourished Europeans 9 times. It is one of the most urgent environmental and humanitarian issues of our age”, says Piotr Barczak, Project Officer for Waste at the European Environmental Bureau. And the action yet taken by the EU to fight food waste has been sporadic and fragmented, thus failing at any major achievement.
Th EU has set to halve its food wastage by 2030 as one of its sustainable development goals. In 2015, the European Commission started working on a common methodology to measure food waste. “Measurement is the very foundation of the food waste prevention strategy. If we measure, we can achieve something”, explains Vytenis Andriukaitis, the Food Safety Commissioner.
In June, le European Parliament passed a resolution adopted a resolution urging the Commission to produce a common methodology by the end of 2017. However, the process has run into the sand. That is because the European Council has repeatedly rejected any proposition issued by the Commission (some have been put forward in 2001, 2012, 2015 and 2016). The Member states indeed oppose any plan including coercive measures.
Member states also rejected MEPs’ proposed definition of food waste and their call to adopt a common methodology. In response, the assembly proposed limiting binding objectives to households and mass distribution – which together amount to 50% of the general European food waste.
“The current negotiations will show if the EU is ready to embrace a circular economy. Reporting the reform to the next tenure would create substantial delays and a serious lack of visibility for European companies who need to be presented a clear long-term vision”, Piotr Barczak concludes.