EU should hold firm over legal food waste target

Campaigners have urged EU countries to get behind a legal target to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 after a survey revealed some member states are opposed to the measure.

Romania, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Estonia have been praised for “leading the world” by expressing support for the introduction of legally binding targets for member states to reduce EU food waste by 50% from farm to fork by 2030.

A survey of member state positions published by Feedback EU and European Environmental Bureau (EEB) found that Austria, Denmark, the Czech Republic and Croatia also expressed support for legally binding targets, but stopped short of clearly backing a 50% farm to fork reduction by 2030.

Poland, Malta, Slovenia and Portugal currently oppose the setting of any legally binding food waste targets for EU member states while Greece and Latvia favour lower targets for only limited parts of the supply chain.

Many other member states are currently remaining neutral or undecided, according to the environmental groups.

The European Commission is due to make a proposal later this year for a world first, legally binding food waste target with formal adoption by 2023 – a decision which is influenced by consultation with EU member states.

The EU is estimated to waste 140.6 million tonnes of food each year – more than it imports, according to Feedback EU.

The proposed legal target aligns with sustainable development goal (SDG) 12.3, which aims by 2030 to halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

At the recent COP27 in Egypt the Champions 12.3 coalition, which is mobilising action towards SDG 12.3, urged organisations to take a new ‘123 Pledge’ designed to ensure impact, progress and transparency towards the goal. Commitments must tie into at least one of five priority areas. These include integrating food loss and waste reduction into country and company climate strategies; and supporting behaviour change at the consumer level through awareness, education and enabling conditions.

Hundreds of UK food businesses, including retailers, manufacturers and foodservice companies, have signed up to Wrap’s Courtauld Commitment 2030, which has adopted SDG 12.3 as its core food waste ambition.

In its 2018 waste and resources strategy for England the government pledged to consult on legal powers to introduce mandatory targets for food waste prevention but any such consultation has yet to take place. It has, however, recently consulted on introducing mandatory reporting of food waste in England.

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