MEPs back proposals to cut EU’s 88 million tonnes of annual food waste

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MEPs have voted overwhelmingly for measures to cut the millions of tonnes of food wasted each year across the EU.

623 MEPs voted in favour of the draft report from the EU environment commission which called for the 88 million tonnes per year of food waste to cut by 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030. Just 33% voted against the resolution.

The move comes as European policymakers look to reduce CO2 levels and for the bloc to become more socially and environmentally conscious.

But the vote does not carry any legal force.

The EU food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis told MEPs that food waste is “shameful” in a world where millions go hungry every day.

But he told MEPs the EU Commission thought the EU-wide targets were superfluous, as there were existing UN-level targets on food waste reduction.

Everybody has responsibility to tackle the problem

MEP Biljana Borzan, who has led calls for the action plan on food waste across the EU, said: “In developed countries food is wasted mostly at the end of the chain, at distribution and consumption. Everyone has a responsibility to tackle this problem.

“My report calls for a coordinated policy response on labelling, liability and education, as most consumers do not understand the precise meaning of ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labelling.”

As part of the proposals, MEPs have backed national authorities and stakeholders undertaking greater efforts to help consumers to understand ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ labels on food products, including the fact that food can be eaten after the ‘best before’ date.

They said the EU Commission will have to gauge the possible benefits of removing certain dates for products without posing any risk to public health or the environment.

VAT exemptions on food donations

MEPs also called for exemptions on VAT on food donations and that the EU Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) should be used to finance the cost of collecting, transporting, storing and distributing food donations.

Across the EU, it is estimated there is around 88 million tonnes a year of food waste and the production and disposal of this food waste leads to the emission of 170 million tonnes of CO2.

Following this vote, the EU Commission will report back to EU Parliament on its plans to tackle food waste.

“This report is not binding but it pushes ideas that can be taking on board in other legislation being discussed at the moment,” a spokesman for the European Parliament told Food Navigator.

As an example, the vote on the resolution will likely be fed into the EU’s Circular Economy package legislative proposals. These include wide-ranging proposals to update legislation around waste and recycling.

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