Food waste measurement

Food waste measurement

The Communication on Circular Economy calls on the Commission to elaborate a common EU methodology to measure food waste so as to support achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 target on food waste and maximise the contribution of all actors in the food value chain.

In order to ensure that national food waste prevention programmes are informed by a solid evidence base and support sharing of innovation and best practice, the EU is working on augmenting and improving the quantification of food waste levels. The revised Waste Framework Directive adopted on 30 May 2018 calls on the EU countries to reduce food waste at each stage of the food supply chain, monitor food waste levels and report back regarding progress made. Moreover it requires the EU countries to:

  • prepare food waste prevention programmes (as a part of general waste prevention programmes);
  • encourage food donation and other redistribution for human consumption, prioritising human use over animal feed and the reprocessing into non-food products as part of measures taken to prevent waste generation;
  • provide incentives for the application of the waste hierarchy, such as facilitation of food donation.

The Act also:

  • introduces a ‘food waste’ definition based on the definition of food from the General Food Law;
  • requests the Commission to adopt legislation on food waste measurement by end-March 2019;
  • requests the Commission to prepare a report accompanied, if appropriate, by a proposal by end-2023 to set up an EU-wide food waste reduction target (to be met in 2030);
  • states that consumer understanding of ‘use-by’ and ‘best before’ dates should be improved in order to reduce food waste.

The Commission is delegated to establish a common methodology to measure food waste levels in the EU, as well as a reporting format for the EU countries to inform on progress made over time. The Member States Expert group supports the Commission in preparation of the related Delegated Act that will lay down the common measurement methodology and its minimum quality requirements.

The Delegated Decision establishing a common EU methodology to measure food waste has been adopted by the European Commission on 3rd May 2019. It is now subject to the scrutiny of the European Parliament and the Council, which have the right to express objections, in accordance with Article 290 (2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. If no objection is raised, the delegated act will be published and enter into force in autumn 2019.

A subgroup of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, dedicated to the issue of food waste measurement, supports the Commission's work in this area more generally and facilitates sharing of experience and best practice amongst Platform members.

Meetings of the sub-group on food waste measurement