EuroCommerce, the principal European organisation representing Europe’s leading retailers and wholesalers, is urging national governments and the European Union to do more to tackle the 88m tonnes of food waste generated every year and increase food donation.
In a statement published on Wednesday, it warned that a failure to act could result in food waste levels rising to over 120m tonnes by 2020.
“It is a scandal, both environmentally and socially, that wholesome food goes to waste,” said EuroCommerce director general Christian Verschueren.
“We call upon the EU and national governments to look carefully at their rules and help address the obstacles holding us all back from exploiting the potential for moving closer to eliminating food waste.”
The organisation said it was encouraged by a report from European Parliament that recommends governments adopt a series of measures to solve the problem, including tax exemptions for food donations and the creation of a pan-European food waste hierarchy.
It pointed out that developing innovative solutions would not necessarily entail additional legislation or costs.
Verschueren said retailers had already taken significant steps to tackle the problem of food waste, such as improving inventories, working more closely with farmers to match production with retail demand; educating consumers on the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates and working with food banks and charities to donate unsold food.
These are set out in a report launched this week by EuroCommerce caused “Rising to the Food Waste Challenge”, which sets out best practice and case studies from members.
“Although retailers account for no more than 5 per cent of the waste generated, we recognise our role in reducing waste, starting with our own operations, but also increasingly encouraging major reductions in food waste where it occurs most: in the home and upstream in the food chain,” Verschueren said.
The measures set out in the report are in line with the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) Food Waste Resolution, a pledge by leading food companies and retailers to halve food wasted in their operations by 2025.