What can be done about food waste?

August 5, 2013 11:41 AM
In Liberal Democrat Voice
Phil Knowles with Baroness Ros Scott

Baroness Ros Scott with East Midlands Policy Officer Phil Knowles

It is a little known fact that the European Union has a target for reducing food waste, aiming to reduce the 2011 level by half by 2020. Astonishingly, it was estimated that 89 million tonnes of food were wasted in 2011 across the European Union. As part of their efforts to reach their target, the European Commission have recently launched a public consultation on the subject.

In response, the House of Lords European Union Committee has launched an inquiry, seeking 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. Some of the questions they will be asking are;

  • Why is food waste a significant issue to be tackled and how does it fit with wider objectives of sustainable, inclusive and smart economic growth?
  • How should food waste be defined and how can it be monitored?
  • What are the principle causes of food waste in the EU? What role can EU regulation and guidance play in preventing it?
  • What economic drivers are in place to prevent food waste? What further efforts would be desirable?
  • How realistic is the Commission's aspiration to half food waste by 2020?
  • What are the economic, social and environmental implications of food waste prevention?

In launching their inquiry, and calling for written evidence from any and all interested parties, Baroness Ros Scott, Chair of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy, said:

It is shocking to think that 89 million tonnes of food is wasted in Europe ever year. That amounts to 180kg of food through away by every man, woman and child across the EU.

The European Commission has set an ambitious target to reduce food waste. Reducing 89 million tonnes by half by 2020 would be a massive achievement. It remains to be seen, however, whether it can live up to that ambition.

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.