A new industry initiative aims to help Europe meet its targets for cutting high levels of food waste

In an effort to tackle food waste issues, FoodDrinkEurope – the trade association representing Europe’s food and drink industries – has announced a joint food waste declaration, Every Crumb Counts.

The initiative brings together stakeholders from across the food and packaging industries, committing them to reducing food wastage across the supply chain, in line with the European commission’s goal of halving edible food waste by 2020.

Reflecting a broader European Union drive for more effective resource management, signatories to the declaration commit to promoting a lifecycle approach in their response to the food waste issue.

Speaking at the launch of the initiative, Matthias Groote MEP, chair of the European parliament’s environment, public health and food safety committee, said: “Food wastage does not only have a big impact on the global food situation, but also significant economic and ecological consequences.”

His comments underscore the growing economic rationale for dealing with food waste – an area also explored within the joint declaration, which encourages the food industry to look at new markets for waste food.

One-third wasted  

According to a 2011 study by the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, about one-third of food intended for human consumption (about 1.3bn tonnes) is lost or wasted globally each year. In Europe, about 90m tonnes of food is wasted annually. This equates to 179kg per person.

A study conducted by the UK’s Waste Resources Action Programme (Wrap) found that household food and drink waste in the UK amounted to 7.2m tonnes in 2010 (down from 8.3m tonnes in 2006-7). This is about one-fifth of all food and drink bought in the UK.

“Food waste is a major global issue. While almost half of all UK food waste occurs in the home, we’re also aware that significant quantities are wasted through the supply chain, from farm to factory gate and onwards,” says Richard Swannell, Wrap’s food and drink director.

Wrap’s work with business and industry has focused on a number of initiatives, including the Courtauld commitment (now in its third phase) and the hospitality and food service agreement (HaFSA). The economic case for addressing food waste is clear, Swannell says. “If just 25% of businesses in the sector sign up to the HaFSA agreement, they could save a total of £76m and reduce their CO2 emissions by 570,000 tonnes,” he argues.

A number of large businesses have sought to harvest some of this low hanging fruit in recent years in the form of voluntary waste targets and commitments. In 2010, Nestlé UK committed to send zero waste to landfill by 2014. Half of its UK factories had achieved this by the end of 2012.

In June 2013, UK supermarket Sainsbury’s announced it had achieved its 20x20 goal of sending no waste to landfill. According to a Sainsbury’s spokesman, surplus food is either used by the company’s charity partners, processed into animal feed, or used to generate energy through anaerobic digestion.

Environment  ethical supply chains  Food  Rob Bailes  supply chain engagement  waste 

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