MEPs voted in support of targets to cut food waste by 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030 this week, as they called for clearer labelling and a review of VAT rules that discourage donations of surplus food.
The European Parliament this week published a neat infographic showing that 88 million tonnes of food is wasted every year, with more than half (53%) arising at household level.
“In developed countries food is wasted mostly at the end of the chain, at distribution and consumption,” said MEP Biljana Borzan from Croatia. “Most consumers do not understand the precise meaning of ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labelling,” she added.
A Eurobarometer survey in September 2015 found that date marking on foods is “poorly understood”, with fewer than one in two Europeans understand the meaning of best before (47%) or use by (40%) labels.
Borzan’s position report – which was adopted by a majority of 623 votes to 33 – includes proposals for a “coordinated policy response on labelling, liability and education”.
The MEPs also called on EU governments to “address the shortcomings of existing EU legislation where it hinders food donations” and urged the European Commission to change the VAT Directive in order to “explicitly authorise tax exemptions on food donations”.
Last month, MPs in the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee put forward a number of similar proposals when they published the findings of their inquiry into food waste in England.
The committee called for a national waste reduction target and suggested ‘best before’ dates should be scrapped. They also recommended mandatory food waste collections for businesses and urged the incoming government to look at “additional fiscal measures” to promote more redistribution of surplus food.