On 11 April the European Parliament urged the European Commission to set binding food waste targets by 2020, which will have to be met by 2025 and 2030. The EP’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted unanimously in favour of an own-initiative report titled Resource efficiency: reducing food waste, improving food safety.
“According to 2014 data, 55 million people, or 9.6% of the EU population, could not afford a quality meal every other day. Furthermore, data from 2015 suggests 118.8 million people, or 23.7% of the EU population, were at risk of poverty and ‘social exclusion”. This is tragic when considered that an estimated 88 million tons of food are wasted in the EU annually. This is expected to rise to approximately 126 million tonnes by 2020 if no immediate action is taken. Figures show that 70% of food waste arises in the household, food service and retail sectors, while production and processing sectors contribute the remaining 30%. (Source: EURACTIV)
On 17 January the EU Court of Auditors criticised the Commission, stated that “…the action to date has not been sufficient. The EU strategy on food waste has to be strengthened and better coordinated. The Commission should explore ways of using existing policies to better fight food waste and loss”.
Growing pressure to improve resource efficiency
These developments show a trend of growing pressure on the European Union and the Member States to improve resource efficiency. The ENVI report calls for a coordinated policy response at all levels of the food chain, reducing food waste by 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.
Croatian MEP Biljana Borzan (S&D) and rapporteur of the report told EURACTIV that since there is food waste at every stage of the supply and consumption chain “there is not a “silver bullet” regulation that the EU can enforce that would solve the problem.
“Currently there are 52 EU acts that have a certain impact, positive or negative, on food waste […] we need a coordinated policy response at EU and member state level that takes into account policies regarding waste, food safety, and information, but also aspects of economic, research and innovation, environment, agriculture, education, and social policy” she warned.
Combating foodwaste with Internet of Things
Internet of Things technologies are uniquely suited for combating food waste by being able to monitor produce at all levels of the food chain and provide real-time feedback to enable accurate and prompt decision making. More and more companies are popping up that utilise IoT to combat food waste. An example is the California based Zest Labs.