Following ambitious European Union (EU) food waste reduction targets set earlier this year, the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste met to take stock of progress.
Food waste prevention is part of the EU’s plan for a “circular economy:” a transition intended to improve global competitiveness, encourage sustainable growth, and create new jobs. In the 2015 EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy, EU Member States committed to meeting the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3, reducing retail and consumer food waste by 50 percent by 2030. The 2018 Revised EU Waste Legislation expanded upon this target by including calls to reduce food waste at every stage of the food system and report food waste levels.
Under the agreement, Member States are currently developing national plans to achieve these targets including methods to record and report progress, awareness campaigns, and incentives for redistributing food. Some Member States started building policies toward targets: in 2016, the French government passed legislation that prohibits supermarkets from throwing away food approaching its sell-by-date, mandating that they redirect the food to charities or food banks.
“While momentum is growing, and progress in 2018 is promising, we need to do more—move more boldly and quickly to meet the target of reducing food waste by half by 2030,” says European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis.
Tackling the 88 million tons of food wasted in the EU each year requires involving all key players from public and private sectors in order to better identify, measure, understand, and create solutions to limit food waste, according to the platform. At the meeting, the platform highlighted the role of innovation and research in reaching SDG 12.3 by incorporating voices from EIT Food, a pan-European partnership connecting all stakeholders in the food system to accelerate innovation, and FOOD 2030, an initiative that aims to connect, organize, and scale up research and innovation on food and nutrition security.
As part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), EIT Food aims to stimulate entrepreneurship, innovation, and research in the food sector to create a more sustainable and future-proof food sector. Their Zero Waste Agenda is one of four innovation programs and aims to develop solutions for food security, improve the efficiency of the food value chain, and reduce food waste. As part of their portfolio to combat food waste, EIT Food currently leads the social awareness campaign “Don’t be a food waster,” which targets all players in the food system—but places specific attention on consumers to educate them and equip them with food waste fighting knowledge and tools.