At a plenary vote in Strasbourg this week, the European Parliament endorsed ambitious proposals put forward by the Socialists and Democrats to cut food waste in half by 2030. Every year 88 million tonnes of food are wasted across the EU, costing over 143 billion Euros and producing up to 170 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. Among the measures the Parliament is calling for are the lifting of existing restrictions on food donations, a better understanding for consumers of the “best before” and “use by” labels, and a secondary food market for fruits and vegetables left unsold for purely aesthetic reasons, or other marketing standards.
S&D spokesperson on the environment Miriam Dalli, MEP, said:
“On average, every European wastes 173 kg of food per year. So much could be done with that amount of wasted food. At the same time, one in ten EU citizens cannot afford a quality meal every other day. Wasting food costs a lot of money and creates additional emissions detrimental to climate change. Cutting food waste is an ethical, economic and environmental must.
“Under the leadership of the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament today endorsed proposals that aim at halving the annual amount of food wasted in the EU by 2030. We call on the Commission to come up with legislative proposals to implement our ideas on cutting food waste.”
S&D spokesperson on food waste Biljana Borzan, MEP, said:
In my report I put forward a number of measures that could drastically reduce food waste. More than half of the food wasted is at household level, so it is critically important to raise awareness among everyday consumers. Most people are not sure what “best before” and “use by” labels really mean. We need to clear up this confusion so as to prevent healthy food, still fit for consumption, from being thrown in the bin.
“In many member states donating food is difficult and can even mean additional costs. Member states must make food donation easier by removing administrative hurdles and creating financial incentives instead. We call on the Commission to propose a change in the VAT directive that would explicitly authorise tax exemptions on food donations. The EU Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived should be used to pay for collecting, transporting, storing and distributing food donations.
“Fortunately, the conservatives failed in their efforts to torpedo our proposal to create a secondary market for products excluded from the primary market for purely aesthetic reasons. It is absurd to bar perfectly healthy fruit and vegetables from the market just because they are not the normal shape or size.
"The overwhelming majority which the report received today shows that tackling food waste and improving food donation are a key issue for the European Parliament."