Danger of EU food waste targets being scrapped; campaigners and FLW platform members call for urgent action

  • Europe

Members of the EU’s Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste (FLW Platform) have urgently called on the European Council and Commission to set EU food waste reduction targets now, rather than wait for a methodology to be set first.

European trialogue negotiations are currently in progress to decide on the next 13 years of EU food waste policy. In March, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of establishing targets to halve EU food waste by 2030 from farm to fork, and has been arguing in favour of these in the negotiations.

The European Council has been trying to block the European Parliament’s proposed EU food waste targets, on the grounds that the Council wants a definition and methodology for measurement of food waste to be set first. If the Council continue to block targets, there is a risk that EU food waste targets may be scrapped completely which would seriously jeopardise the EU’s ability to meet Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, a target to halve per capita food waste by 2030.

Now members of the FLW Platform, including Slow Food, Feedback and Health Care Without Harm Europe, have come out rejecting the European Council’s argument. They argue that targets definitely can and should be set before a methodology for measurement is developed, and obstructing targets will dangerously damage the EU’s ability to meet SDG 12.3.

The FLW Platform was set up by the European Commission to help set the methodology for the EU measurement of food waste, and is scheduled to come up with a food waste methodology by 2018. If food waste targets are adopted by the EU in 2017, it will take at least 2 years for this law to be translated into member state law, by which point it would be possible to incorporate the Platform’s methodology into the targets.

As part of the EU food waste campaign founded by This Is Rubbish, 67 organisations from 20 EU countries and over 100,000 people have called on the European Council and Commission to back the European Parliament’s proposed targets to halve EU food waste by 2030, from farm to fork.

A possible compromise the Council may push for, according to leaked documents from September, is to only set EU targets to halve food waste at retailer and consumer level. But up to 59% of the EU’s food waste is estimated to occur before retail level, on farms and in the supply – up to 84 million tonnes per year – which would be side-lined if the European Council is successful in excluding this from the EU food waste targets.

Campaigners are urging people around Europe to call on the European Council to get behind the European Parliament’s farm to fork food waste targets.


Grazia Cioci, Deputy Director for Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe, and member of the FLW Platform, said:

“The Council’s argument against setting EU food waste reduction targets is weak and not supported by evidence. A methodology, although very useful, does not need to be in place for targets to be adopted and implemented. In addition, it will take EU member states at least two years to transpose the revised Waste Framework Directive into national legislation, once it is adopted, which means that national legislation will be in place not earlier than 2020. By this year, the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste will have developed a European standardised methodology that will allow Member States to reach the set targets. Scrapping the targets now, or delaying a decision on setting targets, will jeopardise the EU’s ability to meet SDG 12.3.”


Martin Bowman, EU Campaigns Manager for This Is Rubbish, and founder of the EU food waste campaign, said:

“It would be a tragedy if the EU were to waste this historic opportunity to halve EU food waste – and all the associated benefits for EU carbon emissions, land and water resources, food security, and efficiency savings. The European Council’s spurious arguments completely fall apart in the face of criticisms from members of the FLW Platform, who are tasked with creating the very EU food waste methodology the Council are using as their excuse.”

“Farm to fork targets to halve EU food waste by 2030 are immensely popular – they have the support of over 100,000 people and 61 organisations from 18 EU countries, representing businesses, charities, food waste campaigners and consumer organisations. All these EU citizens are cheering the European Council not to betray the European food waste movement, and instead do the right thing and lead the world in ending food waste. The clock is ticking.”


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 12.3 on food waste aims to:

By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses”



In order to support achievement of the SDG 12.3 target on food waste and maximise the contribution of all actors, the Communication on Circular Economy calls on the Commission to establish a Platform dedicated to food waste prevention. The EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste (FLW) aims to support all actors in: defining measures needed to prevent food waste; sharing best practice; and evaluating progress made over time. Their sub-group on food waste measurement was established to support EU activities on measurements of food waste. For more info, see: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste/eu_actions/eu-platform_en



The full statement made by the FLW Platform members mentioned above can be found here.


EU FOOD WASTE CAMPAIGN – Further information:

103,000 people have signed petitions to halve EU food waste.

- 72,000 on Global Citizen: www.globalcitizen.org/en/action/eu-halve-food-waste/

- 31,000 on Change.org: www.change.org/p/let-s-cut-europe-s-food-waste-in-half

Over 20,000 have also taken email actions targeted at EU member state Ministries responsible for food waste, to ensure they back EU food waste targets as representatives to the European Council. The email actions were set up by This Is Rubbish in collaboration with Global Citizen and Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

67 organisations from 20 EU countries currently support This Is Rubbish's EU food waste campaign statement in support of farm to fork targets to halve EU food waste by 2030. The statement and its supporters are listed here.


Preview image: Sebastien Bertrand via Flickr cc