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Campaigners pressure member states for ambitious food waste reduction targets!

No time or food to waste in the EU

With around 10% of the food made available to EU consumers going down the drain – and just six years to meet the 2030 UN target of halving food waste – it is fair to say that there is neither time nor food to waste. 

NGOs have warned that the bloc risks falling short of its commitment to meet international ambitions with targets that are not up to the challenge ahead, but not many EU countries have the appetite for more. 

At the upcoming meeting of environment ministers on 17 June, member states have the occasion to reach a common position on the Commission’s proposal, after the Parliament has already done so.  

The bloc’s executive wants to reduce food waste by 30% in households, restaurants and retail, and by 10% in food processing and manufacturing, from 2020 levels – little incentive to speed up action, according to environmental groups such as the Prevent Waste Coalition.  

The Parliament was more ambitious in its position approved last month – raising the targets to 40% and 20% respectively.  

“EU policymakers should back these 40% targets and raise the extremely low targets for manufacturing in line with other sectors,” said Toine Timmermans, Director at Stichting Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling, in a press release published on Friday (10 May).  

Toine Timmermans

But it is unclear whether a majority of member states deem this feasible, also because targets are just a part of the issue. 

At the Environment Council on 25 March, many raised concerns about the baseline year, as 2020 was anomalous because of the COVID pandemic, but also the impact of tourism on food waste levels, and the inclusion of non-edible food in the proposed targets.  

Countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, want more ambition.  

The proposal for EU-level reduction targets was one of the two actions promised by the Commission to fight food waste as part of its flagship Farm to Fork food policy. The other one was an overhaul of the expiry date in labels, to prevent consumers from throwing away food that is still good to eat.  

Last year, the EU executive launched a public consultation to tackle misunderstandings about the “best before” date label – which, unlike the “use by” date, is an indicator of quality, not safety. 

However, so far, the initiative has not been translated into a concrete proposal. 

Whether it is by setting targets, improving the marketing of products (or both), the pressing need to bring down the millions of tonnes of wasted food will be on the bloc’s menu for some time to come.  

By Maria Simon Arboleas / Agrifood Journalist | Euractiv

About İsmail Uğural

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