Counting the Cost of Food Waste: EU Food Waste Prevention - European Union Committee Contents


The EU Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy of the House of Lords, chaired by Baroness Scott of Needham Market, is conducting an inquiry into The EU's contribution to food waste prevention. The Sub-Committee seeks evidence from anyone with an interest.

Written evidence is sought by 27 September 2013. Public hearings will be held over the period October-December 2013. The Committee aims to report to the House, with recommendations, in late March 2014. The report will receive responses from the Government and the European Commission, and may be debated in the House.

The Commission recommended in its Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe, in 2011, that disposal of edible food waste should have been halved by 2020. The European Parliament has recommended that the Commission take practical measures towards halving food waste by 2025. We recommended bio-waste reduction targets in our report on Innovation in EU Agriculture in 2011, alongside a new "systems" approach to agriculture involving greater interaction throughout the food supply chain.

In order to take its policy forward, the Commission plans to publish a Communication in early 2014 on sustainable food, in advance of which it issued a consultation paper on 8 July 2013.

We will seek to establish a common understanding of the issue, identify and scrutinise proposed EU-level solutions, consider their implications and identify any areas for further research.

We will make policy recommendations to the Commission and Member States, including the UK, accordingly.

Our focus is on prevention as it sits at the top of the waste hierarchy[317], but we would welcome comments relating to management of waste further down the waste hierarchy, including the conversion of food waste to energy

The Sub-Committee seeks evidence on any aspect of this topic, and particularly on the following questions:

The issue

(1)  Why is food waste a significant issue to be tackled, and how does it fit in the EU's wider objectives of sustainable, inclusive and smart growth?

(2)  How would you define food waste and how feasible is it to monitor such food waste throughout the food chain across the EU?

The causes

(3)  What do you see as the principal causes of food waste in the EU at each stage of the food supply chain? How significant a role does EU regulation and guidance—across the EU's policies—play in hindering food waste prevention and effective management?

Tackling food waste: the EU's role and best practice

(4)  What economic drivers are already in place to prevent food waste? How can EU regulation and guidance amplify those drivers? What further EU policy changes would be desirable? How can such developments be coordinated with efforts at the local, national and international levels?

(5)  How realistic do you consider the Commission's aspiration to halve food waste by 2020 to be, and how helpful could a binding target be in encouraging Member States to intensify their actions in this area? How could such a target be effectively applied?

(6)  What best practice at national, regional and local level can be identified and shared by others? What evidence is there across Member States of the success of a systems approach to food waste prevention, involving interaction throughout the food supply chain?

The implications

(7)  What are the economic, social and environmental implications of food waste prevention? What economic implications, for example, arise for waste management businesses and for those throughout the food supply chain who may face reduced demand for food? Have resource efficiency implications been given sufficient attention? Could food waste prevention have an impact on food re-distribution schemes?

Research and innovation

(8)  What additional research and innovation would be helpful to support the development of food waste prevention and management policy? Are there any innovative approaches to communication that could assist with the prevention of food waste?

317   The waste hierarchy, as defined in the EU's Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC), starts with waste prevention and then moves down to: preparing for re-use; recycling; other recovery (e.g. energy recovery); and, finally, waste disposal.  Back

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