'More work needed' in food waste fight, says report

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Fred Searle


'More work needed' in food waste fight, says report

Major report recommends governments and businesses worldwide accelerate efforts to reduce food waste

'More work needed' in food waste fight, says report

Around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the European Union, 

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An umbrella group of governments and international organisations has said that while progress has been made, redoubled efforts are needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of halving food waste and reducing food loss by 2030.

Given the magnitude of food loss and waste globally, the report from Champions 12.3 recommends that nations, cities and businesses in the food supply chain move quickly to set reduction targets, measure progress and take action to reduce food loss and waste.

The group is a coalition of leaders from government, business and civil society around the world dedicated to mobilising action towards achieving Target 12.3 of the SDGs.

At present, one-third of all food produced is never eaten by people and the global impact of this loss and waste worldwide is huge. Food loss and waste is responsible for $940 billion ($719 billion) in economic losses and 8 percent of greenhouse gases emissions annually.

Around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the European Union, costing an estimated €143 billion (£109 billion). The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN (FAO) reports that the amount of food wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people.

Europe-based members of the Champions 12.3 coalition include representatives from major food businesses, research centres and NGOs, including Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke, Wrap’s chief exec Marcus Gover and the organisation’s chair Dave Lewis, who heads up the Tesco Group.

According to its report, governments and organisations across Europe have taken a number of notable steps to reduce food loss and waste since the SDG Target 12.3 was introduced in September 2015.

France adopted legislation requiring French supermarkets to donate unsold yet still edible food to charities; the German Ministry of Agriculture has dedicated €10 million to developing “smart packaging” that uses electronic chip sensors to communicate the food’s freshness and safety to consumers; and the UK, which is one of the worst offenders in food waste, launched a new voluntary agreement called the Courtauld Commitment 2025, aimed at reducing food waste by a fifth.

Commenting on the progress made so far in the UK, Gover said: “Wrap has been working on this for over a decade, forging partnerships and galvanising action through the Courtauld Commitment.

“As a result, since 2007, we have helped reduce food waste by over a million tonnes per year, across retail, hospitality and food service, and in the home.”

But the report concluded that given the enormous scope of the food loss and waste challenge, Europe and other regions need to do much more.

The report offers three recommendations for leaders in their efforts to meet Target 12.3 by 2030: firstly, for countries, major cities and companies in the food supply chain to set food loss and waste reduction targets; secondly, for governments and companies to quantify food waste and monitor progress towards reducing it; and thirdly, to scale up the adoption of policies, incentives, investment and practices that reduce food loss and waste.

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