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EU must set ambitious targets to combat waste food

20% of the food produced in Europe each year goes to waste. In order to meet the economic, environmental and social challenges created by all this waste, the European Committee of the regions' rapporteur, Ossi Martikainen (FI/ALDE), Municipal Councillor of Lapinlahti, called on the EU to adopt a minimum target of reducing food waste by 30% by 2025. In his report adopted yesterday, he encourages local and regional authorities to take action by putting in place effective prevention and awareness programmes.

While 10% of the European Union's population is affected by food insecurity, 88 million tonnes of food were wasted in the EU in 2012, or almost 173 kg per person. Preventing food waste is a key issue for achieving food security, one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. This is a challenge that European cities and regions have the power and will to meet.

"When so many go hungry each day, it is simply unacceptable that so much food goes to waste. The 30% target shows that local and regional governments are ready to act. From promoting awareness-raising, to shortening the supply-chain to food collections, local and regional governments can make a difference but they need the EU to lead the way" saidMarkku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions. Strongly committed to ending food waste, President Markkula welcomed the forthcoming participation of the Committee in the EU platform on Food Losses and Food Waste .

In the report – formally known as an "opinion" - voted on yesterday, the CoR set out its recommendations on how local and regional authorities can help reduce food waste. The opinion calls for sustainability criteria in public procurement aimed at reducing and preventing food waste; the use of local, regional and seasonal products in catering services; and for schools to include the issue of food-waste reduction as part of the curriculum, for instance through thematic days, study visits and students learning programmes. The Committee also advocates for a common methodology and measurements at EU level to gauge the extent of food waste and measure progress towards a common, harmonised reduction goal right across the EU.

"Fighting food waste requires concrete action on the ground by all players. In this respect, I would like to thank the Committee of the Regions for your work on the issue and in particular for your Opinion. I am indeed deeply convinced that our regions and cities have an important role to play on the issue of food waste because they generate and manage waste every day. This is why when I am visiting Member States I continuously raise awareness, particularly at the local level. They can implement concrete actions on the ground to fight food waste, working directly with citizens as well as a wide range of actors including schools, community markets, restaurants, food businesses and food banks or charitable organisations. I am particularly glad to hear that you will participate the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and I am looking forward to read your contributions on the subject" said Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

"There are a variety of means and innovative local initiatives for achieving the goal, long-time advocated by the CoR, of reducing food waste by 30% at EU level. Committing to an ambitious target is essential. Especially because achieving it requires no specific financial support or budget. Reducing waste saves money and nature at the same time. This is a win-win situation" declared the rapporteur, Ossi Martikainen,

Many cities and regions in Europe have already implemented programmes to reduce food waste with significant positive effects. One such a case is the Italian initiative " I do not waste " launched by the municipal body "Milano Ristorazione", which encourages pupils to take home food leftovers from their lunch by providing them a special bag or another is the " Zero waste Scotland " programme in Scotland.

Photos available here

Food-waste prevention is an integral part of the Commission's new Circular Economy Package which is designated to stimulate Europe's transition towards a circular economy that will boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable growth and generate new jobs.

The Circular Economy Package consist of an EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy and anannex to the action plan outlining the timetable for proposed actions, and related legislative proposals on waste, including a revised proposed directive on waste.

EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste

In order to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 12.3 target on food waste and to maximise the contribution of all actors, the Communication on Circular Economy calls on the Commission to establish a Platform dedicated to food-waste prevention. The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste (FLW) aims to support all actors in: setting out the measures needed to prevent food waste; sharing best practice; and evaluating progress made over time.

The Platform will bring together public entities (Member States/EFTA countries, EU bodies, including the CoR, and international organisations) and actors in the food value-chain such as consumer- and other non-governmental organisations.


Coralie Guillot


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