EU actions against food waste

EU actions against food waste

The European Commission is taking the issue of tackling food waste very seriously. Reducing food waste has enormous potential for reducing the resources we use to produce the food we eat. Being more efficient will save food for human consumption, save money and lower the environmental impact of food production and consumption.

The EU and the EU countries are committed to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 target to halve per capita food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and reduce food losses along the food production and supply chains.

In 2020, the German Presidency to the Council of the European Union assessed progress made by Member States and the EU in their work to prevent and reduce food losses and food waste, as compared to the Council conclusions on food loss and waste (adopted in 2016). The Council’s assessment highlighted milestones achieved at EU level, as well as measures taken by Member States, such as the development of national strategies, adoption of legislative and non-legislative initiatives and consumer awareness campaigns. The assessment also addressed activities undertaken to mitigate risks of food waste linked to COVID-19. Further information can be found on the Council’s dedicated page.

As called for by the new Farm to Fork Strategy, the Commission will seek to step up action to prevent food loss and waste across the EU. The Farm to Fork Strategy, adopted by the Commission as part of the European Green Deal, puts forward a series of actions to enable the transition to a sustainable EU food system that safeguards food security and ensures access to healthy diets sourced from a healthy planet.

Reducing food loss and waste is an integral part of the strategy’s Action Plan. The Commission will propose:

  • legally binding targets to reduce food waste across the EU, by end 2023, defined against a baseline for EU food waste levels set following the first EU-wide monitoring of food waste levels
  • a revision of EU rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates), by end 2022.

The Commission will also further integrate food loss and waste prevention in other EU policies, investigate and explore ways of preventing food losses at the production stage, and continue to mobilise all players by encouraging implementation of the recommendations for action of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste.

The Commission has already carried out important steps to prevent food losses and waste, in line with the actions put forward under the first Circular Economy Action Plan, adopted in 2015. The Revised EU Waste Legislation, adopted on 30 May 2018 by co-legislators, calls on the EU countries to take action to reduce food waste at each stage of the food supply chain, monitor food waste levels and report back regarding progress made.

The Commission has implemented all the actions foreseen under the Circular Economy Action Plan, such as elaborating a common EU methodology to measure food waste consistently; establishing the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste; taking measures to clarify EU legislation related to waste, food and feed and facilitate food donation and use of food no longer intended for human consumption in animal feed; and examining ways to improve the use of date marking by actors in the food chain and its understanding by consumers.

Co-operation with EU member states and stakeholders

Through the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, the Commission is analysing in close cooperation with industry, consumer and other NGOs, research institutes and EU countries policy experts how to reduce food waste without compromising food safety, while also discussing options for possible EU actions. Prior to the establishment of the EU Platform, cooperation had been facilitated through the EU countries Expert Group and a stakeholder Working Group on Food Losses and Food Waste.

EU countries

Stakeholders

EXPO Milan 2015