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Review of studies on food waste accounting at Member State level

Abstract: 

The economic, environmental, and social impacts of food waste are significant and its reduction is urgent. Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals advocates for a 50% reduction of the per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer level by 2030, and for a reduction in food losses along production and supply chains including post-harvest losses. The European Commission, besides committing to achieve the SDG 12.3 target, has identified food waste as one of the priority areas of the European Circular Economy Action Plan. To act on food waste reduction, it is essential for Member States (MSs) to know what are their current levels of food waste. It is equally relevant that this information is gathered using a common quantification approach. To understand the state of play in food waste quantification in the MSs, a literature review of existing studies quantifying food waste in the MSs was conducted by the European Commission Joint Research Centre in support to the activities of the subgroup ‘Food waste Measurement’ of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste. This review was carried out in light of the elements defined in the delegated act that has been adopted by the Commission on 3rd May 2019, establishing a common methodology and minimum quality requirements for the uniform measurement of level of food waste generated in MSs. Aspects analysed included: (i) the definition of food waste used; (ii) the scope and boundaries of the study; (iii) the accounting methodology, including the measurement method(s) used; (iv) the amount of food waste estimated and its final destination(s); (v) additional indicators (e.g. economic, environmental, social) reported; and, (vi) gaps and challenges reported in the studies. In total, 48 studies were analysed. The review highlighted that current data on food waste quantification at MS level is scarce. Although some MSs have been developing work in this area, others have not yet conducted any study quantifying food waste. In general, the studies were carried out using different food waste definitions and following different quantification approaches, which makes their comparison very limited.