How to halve food waste

The EU has committed to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, of which SDG 12.3 calls for global food waste to be halved per capita by 2030. The goal specifically refers to food waste at retail and consumer levels, and food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

HCWH Europe supports a circular economy in Europe including the reduction of food waste. An estimated 88 million tonnes of food is wasted across the European Union each year. The minimisation of waste in food and catering services is a challenge directly affecting European hospitals, where up to 30% of served food is wasted, according to some studies.

Food waste in Europe can be significantly reduced with the implementation of ambitious food waste reduction policies. The current revision of the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC presents a historic opportunity for Europe to implement legislative measures to significantly reduce food waste, a great step towards achieving SDG 12.3. 


On the 24th of January, the European Parliament’s (EP) Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (aka ENVI committee – the body leading the revision of waste directives), voted on what should be introduced into the revised legislation. HCWH Europe welcomed ENVI Committee’s support for the inclusion of a new food waste definition, a food waste hierarchy, and food waste reduction targets.

The healthcare sector (hospitals in particular), has the opportunity - and in line with the Hippocratic Oath, to ‘first do no harm’. There is a moral obligation to inspire and guide other sectors at local, regional, and national levels in the proper management of food waste. Reducing food waste saves money, and helps the healthcare sector reduce its environmental and health impacts.

What’s next?

On the 14th of March, MEPs will meet in Strasbourg to vote on the EP position on the waste files, and also specifically on food-waste. We need to make sure that the EP not only support’s ENVI committee’s position, but that they take this opportunity to raise ambition further. 

HCWH Europe, in collaboration with ThisIsRubbish and Friends of the Earth UK, has produced a briefing that presents policy recommendations for MEPs ahead of the plenary vote next week. We are calling for the inclusion of the following in the Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC.

  • A food waste hierarchy - different from the general waste hierarchy
  • A legally binding food waste reduction targets for Member States
  • A food waste definition that includes all stages of the food chain, including food lost at primary production
  • A methodology for measuring food waste
  • An establish deadline for Member States to have accurate food waste measurements

Read more about these points in our position paper.

How can you help?

Sign this petition to join the 60,000 people and 48 organisations from 17 countries that are calling on the European Parliament to end the senseless and avoidable wastage of food across Europe.


More information

Find out what hospitals across Europe are doing to reduce their institutions food waste in our latest brochure: Food waste in European healthcare settings


Preview image: This is Rubbish