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Food waste prevention in Europe inquiry launched

An inquiry into waste prevention in Europe, and progress on the European Commission’s target of halving food waste by 2020, has been announced.

The House of Lords EU Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy called for evidence on the issue of tackling food waste in the EU, which amounts to an estimated 89 million tonnes a year. The inquiry will investigate the causes of food waste, the economic incentives in placce to prevent it, and what more can be done to avoid it.

It also asks whether the Commission’s aspiration to halve food waste by 2020 is realistic, something that was recommended in the Commission’s 2011 Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe.

The inquiry document highlighted that, although there was an emphasis on waste prevention because it is at the top of the waste hierarchy, comments on the the conversion of food waste to energy would also be welcomed.

The sub-committee plans to feed the policy recommendations resulting from its inquiry to the Commission, which has a consultation on food waste underway until 1 October, and will publish a communication on sustainable food policy in early 2014.

Baroness Scott, chair of the sub-committee, said: “It is shocking to think that 89 million tonnes of food is wasted in Europe ever year. That amounts to 180kg of food thrown away by every man, woman and child.

“The European Commission has set an ambitious target to reduce food waste. Reducing 89 million tonnes by half by 2020 would be a massive achievement. It remains to be seen, however, whether it can live up to that ambition.”

Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) chief executive Steve Lee said: “Food waste and its prevention has become a growing issue, in terms of food security, the environmental cost of wastage and the need to engage with every link in the food chain from field to fork. The CIWM will raise the importance of efficient and effective food waste management, including its collection, treatment and markets for the outputs from these processes.”

The deadline for written evidence to the inquiry is 27 September 2013.

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