"How much food does the average European household throw away every year, and how can we make better use of food that has been produced?" This was one of the main subjects of a discussion with European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, responsible for health and food safety, held by the European Committee of the Regions at the 7th meeting of its Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) on 1 March. This question is also the theme of the working document on food waste drawn up by Ossi Martikainen (FI/ALDE), local councillor of Lapinlahti and member of the European Committee of the Regions.
In the past few years, the issue of food waste has attracted a great deal of attention from public opinion, businesses and NGOs in the Member States and at the EU level. Up to one-third of the word's food production is lost or wasted along the food chain, from production to consumption. The European Commission included the issue of food waste in its Circular Economy package.
1st Vice-Chair of the NAT Commission, Anthony Gerard Buchanan (UK/EA), emphasised that food waste is unacceptable from an ethical point of view, and also gives rise to huge economic and environmental costs. He also recalled that in July 2015 the Committee of the Regions adopted a Resolution on Sustainable Food, which called for a 30% reduction in food waste by 2025.
Commissioner Andriukaitis highlighted the fundamental importance of the local and regional levels of government in preventing food waste, noting that Scotland, Mr Buchanan's homeland, has put in place a "Zero Waste Scotland" plan.
"Indeed, given your knowledge of local realities (…) you play a pivotal role in each and every of the above identified areas of activity," the Commissioner stressed. "In particular by designing effective food waste prevention programmes, by raising awareness and by implementing concrete action on the ground, you can be the real promoter of the cultural and economic change which is needed to reduce and eliminate food waste. Which will hopefully lead us to zero hunger and malnutrition."
The rapporteur, Mr Martikainen presented his working document at the debate. He also thanked Commissioner Andriukaitis "for inviting the European Committee of the Regions to join the European Commission's platform on food waste reduction. Food waste is a policy area that does not require new funding; it is a policy, rather, that saves taxpayers' money, preserves resources and brings about economic and ecologic successes."
During the debate, local and regional representatives supported the Commission’s proposals for the development of a common methodology. They also put forward recommendations as to how local and regional authorities can contribute to the reduction of food waste.
Wioletta Wojewodzka (PL, FR) Tel: +32 2 282 2289 Mobile: +32 475 84 39 86 firstname.lastname@example.org