The global context of food waste
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDG 12 seeks to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” The third target under this goal (Target 12.3) calls for halving per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (including postharvest losses) by 2030.
Food waste in the EU
Around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion euros (FUSIONS, 2016).
All actors in the food chain have a role to play in preventing and reducing food waste, from those who produce and process foods (farmers, food manufacturers and processors) to those who make foods available for consumption (hospitality sector, retailers), Food Banks and other organizations recovering surplus food for redistributing it to the most deprived, and ultimately consumers themselves.
Wasting food is not only an ethical and economic issue but it also depletes the environment of limited natural resources. As it is stated in the Communication published by the European Commission, "food waste is an increasing concern in Europe. The production, distribution and storage of food use natural resources and generate environmental impacts. Discarding food that is still edible increases these impacts, and causes financial loss for consumers and the economy. Food waste also has an important social angle: donation of food that is still edible but that for logistic or marketing reasons cannot be commercialised should be facilitated." (European Commission, Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy, 2 December 2015).
EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste
The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste (FLW) is an initiative of the European Commission dedicated to the prevention of food losses and waste. The Platform has been established as part of the Commission's Circular Economy Action Plan in order to support the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goal (12.3) target on food waste which calls on all nations to halve food waste and reduce food loss by 2030. The Platform aims to support all actors in: defining measures needed to prevent food waste; sharing best practice; and evaluating progress made over time.
A new EU Directive on waste
On 22 May, the EU adopted the Directive (EU) 2018/851 amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste (see here the full text of the Directive).
This Directive lays down measures to protect the environment and human health by preventing or reducing the generation of waste, and improving the efficiency of resource use, which are crucial for the transition to a circular economy.
The Directive contains some specific binding and non-binding provisions on food waste and food donation, including:
The Directive entered into force on 5 July 2018, and will need to be transposed in all EU Member States‘ national legislation by 5 July 2020.
FEBA has been advocating for such provisions for a long time and will continue to follow up their implementation at national level together with its members.
Food donation guidelines
FEBA and its members actively cooperated with DG Health and Food Safety, European Commission in the drafting of the EU donation guidelines.
FEBA has also collaborated with European organizations representing the food supply chain to publish Guidelines on food donation.
EU Guidelines on Food Donations Every Meal Matters Hospitality Industry Guidelines
Fruit and vegetables: free distribution
As part of the Common Agricultural Policy in order to manage periodic crisis, growers can withdraw produce from the market and receive funding under the EU regime. This involves giving produce for free to the following bodies:
Although the quantities of donated fruit and vegetables can vary significantly from year to year, they are very much appreciated by Food Banks because they contribute to the nutritional balance of distributed food.