SAFE welcomes the inclusion of the setting of food waste reduction targets in the objectives of the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, and the efforts shown by the European Commission to allow interested stakeholders to express their comments on the proposal to revise the Directive 2008/98/EC on waste.
Food loss and waste (FLW) reduction is pivotal to decreasing the EU food system’s environmental and climate footprint and promoting a shift to healthy and sustainable diets. In this respect, SAFE appreciates the commitment of the European Commission in adopting legally binding targets to ensure that Member States take ambitious actions to reduce food waste and would like to share its feedback on the proposed initiative.
In order to efficiently answer the call for feedback on the roadmap concerning Food Waste Reduction Targets, we further develop a number of important general considerations regarding FLW policies, and will also examine the reference baseline scenario set by the European Commission for other policy options in its Inception Impact Assessment.
In particular, a 50% food loss and waste (FLW) reduction target by 2030, as explicitly expressed in SDG 12.3 voted by all Member States of the United Nations in 2015, is a minimum for significant change to be achieved. The ongoing process of defining targets for FLW reduction should participate to global objectives for food systems, shaping binding targets at the EU level and matching the Union’s ambition on sustainability and climate change.
We must also stress that voluntary commitments and consumers’ education/awareness-raising, while important, will not be an appropriate answer to the challenges ahead. To make sure that food consumption patterns contribute to a sustainable food systems transition and the success of EU political priorities on FLW reduction, it is important to understand how consumption patterns are established in wider food environments. A “food environments” approach requires policy makers to look at what shapes consumers’ decisions to buy, eat and dispose of food – in other words, the responsibility of tackling food waste should not be put on consumers’ shoulders alone, but instead on all actors shaping food systems (from primary production to retail and wholesale). This can be achieved through financial incentives, taxes and binding measures for these actors.
This initiative constitutes an important opportunity to radically change EU food systems in ways that will be both more respectful of our environment and of consumers’ health and well-being. Therefore, we call on the European Commission to strive for the most ambitious targets and objectives towards the 2030 horizon.