HCWH Europe applauds EP’s position on food waste

Strasbourg, 14th March 2017

The European Parliament (EP) today voted in plenary session on the EP’s report and amendments to the European Commission’s (EC) proposal - COM(215) 595 final - to revise the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC).

HCWH Europe welcomes the EP’s support of the amendments on food waste - such as a new food waste definition, a food waste hierarchy, and food waste reduction targets.

No common definition of “food waste” currently exists in the EU, which forces Member States to work with different national definitions and, as a consequence, different methodologies to prevent and reduce food waste. Today, the EP recognised the need for a harmonised, legally binding, European definition of food waste in order to better regulate food waste and improve prevention and reduction efforts across all Member States.

The new EP food waste definition includes: “food intended for human consumption, either in edible or inedible status, removed from the production or supply chain to be discarded - including at primary production, processing, manufacturing, transportation, storage, retail, and consumer levels, with the exception of primary production losses”1.

HCWH Europe welcomes the important addition of a definition of food waste, but regrets the exclusion of losses at the primary production stage from it. By excluding this stage, a considerable amount of food waste will not fall under this definition, and therefore there will be no obligation on Member States to reduce it.

HCWH Europe also applauds the adoption of a food waste hierarchy - this is a key instrument that will play a major role in food waste management, as food has specific priorities and potential for re-use that are not applicable to waste management of other products. For example, there are particular recovery processes that can only be applied to food, such as the donation of unused food to charities and social organisations, for animal feed, or composting. Now approved by the EP, these resourceful stages of food waste management are one step closer to being officially recognised by the EU and becoming legally binding for Member States.

“The European Parliament has voted in favour of many important amendments to improve the management of food waste. We feel particularly optimistic about the inclusion of a review clause calling on the European Commission to set legally binding targets by 2020. This demonstrates that the European Parliament is determined to move towards reducing food waste. We hope that Member States will back this call, and that the EC will follow through and set the legislative targets that are badly needed to drastically reduce the senseless wastage of food across the Union.”

Ana-Christina Gaeta, Resources Policy Officer - HCWH Europe

Today’s vote was in favour of Member States working towards the objective of a 30% reduction in food waste by 2025, and a 50% reduction by 2030. As welcome as these reduction targets are, the wording of the targets means that they are not legally binding and therefore will not guarantee that Member States will actually meet the targets.

The EU has committed to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12.3 - which explicitly calls for a global 50% reduction of food waste per capita by 2030, at the retail and consumer levels, and to reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses2. In light of this commitment, it is regrettable that the EP did not call for legally binding targets. However, we welcome the adoption of a review clause calling on the European Commission to set legally binding targets by 2020. This is a positive step forward demonstrating political momentum within the EP to meet SDG 12.3. HCWH Europe hopes to see this same commitment from Member States.

HCWH Europe works towards better management and regulation of food waste in European hospitals. The revision of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) should be considered an opportunity by the European institutions to pave the way towards reducing the 88 million tonnes3 of food wasted in Europe each year.


1 European Parliament, Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety – Compromised Amendments 2015/0275</RefProc><RefTypeProc>(COD)

2 www.sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg12

3 www.ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste_en


Preview image: Nick Saltmarsh via Flickr CC