Food squandering should be cut throughout EU
MEPs backed a proposal that urges for cutting waste by 30% by 2025 and by 50% in 2030
19 May, 2017
Squandering habits make it possible that every year 88 million tonnes of food, or 173kg per person, which are worth €143 billion, be thrown as a waste throughout the EU. These piles of food waste add to the climate change bill up to 170 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. For their production and disposal were invested 261 million tonnes of resources.
The biggest producer of food waste is the Netherlands with 541 kg per capita each year, followed by Belgium with 345 kg, while the lowest squanderer is Slovenia with just 72kg, and Malta and Romania coming next with 76kg.
At its plenary in Strasbourg on 16 May, MEPs backed a proposal that urges for cut food waste by 30% by 2025 and by 50% in 2030, lifting of existing restrictions on food donations, a better understanding for consumers of the “best before” and “use by” labels. They also suggest a secondary food market for fruits and vegetables left unsold for purely aesthetic reasons, or other marketing standards.
Croatian S&D MEP Biljana Borzan, who is rapporteur on the file, commented that the proposed measures could drastically reduce food waste. Food is wasted mostly at the end of the chain, at distribution and consumption and more than half of the food wasted is at household level, so it is critically important to raise awareness among everyday consumers, she accented. According to her, most people are not sure what “best before” and “use by” labels really mean and this confusion needs to be cleared up so as to prevent healthy food, still fit for consumption, from being thrown in the bin.
In many Member States, donating food is difficult and can even mean additional costs. Member States must make food donation easier by removing administrative hurdles and creating financial incentives instead, the rapporteur stated.
MEPs urged the Commission to propose a change in the VAT directive that would explicitly authorise tax exemptions on food donations. They also underlined that with money from the EU Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived can be financed all the process of collecting, transporting, storing and distributing food donations.
Fortunately, the conservatives failed in their efforts to torpedo our proposal to create a secondary market for products excluded from the primary market for purely aesthetic reasons. It is absurd to bar perfectly healthy fruit and vegetables from the market just because they are not the normal shape or size, rapporteur Borzan pointed out. Her colleague Miriam Dalli, Maltese MEP, S&D spokesperson on the environment, put her finger on the amount of wasted food saying that at the same time, one in ten EU citizens cannot afford a quality meal every other day. Wasting food costs a lot of money and creates additional emissions detrimental to climate change, she asserted explaining that cutting food waste is an ethical, economic and environmental must.
The shadow rapporteur Ulrike Muller, German ALDE MEP, emphasised that more than fifty different EU policies are linked to the fight against food waste, “but what we need is a coherent, horizontal approach if we are to deliver meaningful reductions”. In her words, food waste happens at every stage of the food chain, but two measures will have the most meaningful impact - more consumer information and education, because according to reports, consumers cause approximately 53 per cent of food waste.