Towards the circular economy: local and regional solutions to food waste

Reducing waste saves money and nature at the same time. This is a win-win situation.

According to the European Commission around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted every year in the EU. The estimated cost is 143 billion euros. Wasteful production and consumption patterns entail substantial loss of global water resources, pose a threat to biodiversity in the form of arable land that has been unnecessarily cleared or is unproductive, impoverish the soil, and squander other finite natural resources. What we have is a linear economy in which objects are briefly used and then discarded as waste.

As part of the 2016 European Week of Regions and Cities the ALDE group in the European Committee of the Regions held on 11 October a workshop on food waste. Chaired by Agnès Durdu, First Vice-President of the ALDE-CoR group, the workshop explored ways how local and regional authorities can play an essential role in preventing and reducing food waste and facilitating the transition to a circular economy.

Three guest speakers were invited to present the European, local and regional point of view as well as to share specific practices and solutions on food waste.

  • Ossi MARTIKAINEN, a local councillor of Lapinlahti, Finland, and a farmer by trade. He is a member of the ALDE Group in the European Committee of the Regions and coordinator of Natural Resources Commission. In 2016 he drafted the opinion on food waste which was adopted at the CoR Plenary Session in June.
  • Vanya VERAS, the Secretary General of Municipal Waste Europe – the European association representing municipalities responsible for waste management and their publicly owned waste management companies.
  • Nicolas SCHERRIER, a Project Manager at Bruxelles Environnement – the environment and energy administration in the Brussels-Capital Region.

The workshop panel agreed that food waste is a threat to the economy, to biodiversity and to the well-being of people. The panellists stressed the importance of a multilevel and “bottom up approach” in tackling the issue and emphasized that local and regional authorities should play an essential role in preventing and reducing food waste and promote good practices for better consumption and waste management.

Main recommendations proposed by the panellists:

    • The EU as a global actor should raise awareness about food waste and lead by example
    • The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) should focus on resource efficiency by getting rid of practices such   as of farming for subsidy. Furthermore, within the pillars conditions should be introduced that focus on resource efficiency, environment protection and safety
    • Focus should be made on reducing food waste at source by implementing practical information tools and training courses for households, schools and restaurants
    • With regards to consumer policy, a greater attention should be placed towards improving standards for packaging and development of better information tools and understanding of Expiration Date and Best by Date
    • Food waste should be prevented by giving food to voluntary organizations for social purposes, such as EU aid programmes, or social supermarkets
    • Local and regional authorities should connect unsold food offers with food aid demands
    • Support local initiatives to salvage unsold food and new projects of unsold food transformation
    • Prevention of food waste should be a criteria in public procurement for local decision makers
    • Develop new sorting and recycling schemes in the EU and make data collected on recycling universally accessible
    • Funding should be made available for research programs and projects aimed at improving food waste management.

Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact ALDE-CoR secretariat or visit our dedicated webpage on food waste and twitter @ALDE_CoR

One-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally

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