88 million tonnes of food waste are generated in the EU each year with associated costs estimated at €143 billion (FUSIONS, 2016). While around 20% of food produced in the EU is lost or wasted, every second day some 33 million people cannot afford a quality meal (including meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian equivalent) (Eurostat, 2018). Food waste also has a huge environmental impact, accounting for 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions (UNEP Food Waste Index 2021) and about 6% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions (FUSIONS, 2016).
Reducing food waste has enormous potential for reducing the resources we use to produce the food we eat. Fighting food waste is a triple win: it saves food for human consumption; brings savings for primary producers, companies and consumers; and lowers the environmental and climate impact of food production and consumption.
The EU is committed to achieving the global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 12.3 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.
Reducing food loss and waste is an integral part of the Farm to Fork Strategy action plan. The Commission will seek to step up action to prevent food loss and waste and 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, notably by encouraging implementation of the recommendations for action of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste.
For more information on EU actions against food loss and waste, please visit the Commission’s Food waste website.