Food Waste

Food waste is a global problem that occurs all along the supply chain and has negative humanitarian, environmental and financial implications. Roughly one-third of edible food produced for human consumption is wasted, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation1. In Europe, a significant proportion of food waste occurs at the consumption stage2 and relates to consumer behaviour, such as insufficient meal planning.

Food packaging extends the product’s life, protects the product from physical damage and keeps out bacteria. It can also provide information on storage. As such, packaging is part of the solution to combating food waste because it prevents food from being damaged or spoiled, both along the supply chain and at home. Waste policies and legislation (e.g. National Waste Prevention Programmes) are increasingly introducing measures to tackle food waste that deploy packaging’s important contribution to food waste reduction and sustainability, among others.  
 
EUROPEN actively contributes to EU policy developments and industry initiatives on food waste reduction. The EU’s Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe identifies food as a key sector where resource efficiency should be improved, and sets an aspirational goal to halve the disposal of edible food waste in the EU by 2020. The European Commission is analysing how to reduce food waste without compromising food safety and is discussing options for EU actions with stakeholders, experts and Member States. EUROPEN has been invited to participate in these discussions and is raising awareness about the contributions of optimal packaging in reducing food waste.

Among many related policy initiatives, the European Commission is compiling good practices on food waste reduction to share with European and national stakeholders. EUROPEN has demonstrated how the packaging supply chain contributes to food waste avoidance and promotes continuous improvement. For example:

  1. Effective packaging systems can enable efficient distribution while making sure the products they protect stay fresh longer and thus extending its shelf-life.
  2. High performance packaging solutions and technologies can preserve food safety by minimizing sources of contamination and reduce food waste from spoilage.
  3. Innovative packaging designs can help consumers buy and use food in portions that match their needs and reduce food waste from leftovers.

The packaging supply chain’s good practices examples gathered by EUROPEN can be found in the following document:

EUROPEN has also worked with other partners to launch the Joint Food Wastage Declaration “Every Crumb Counts”.

As one of the food supply chain member, EUROPEN has been invited to join the EU FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) Project, which aims at reducing food waste through social innovation by gathering data, looking at food waste definitions and developing harmonized methodology for measuring and reporting food waste. The project will also provide recommendations for the development of a Common Food Waste Policy for EU28. The project that officially started on 1 August 2012 will run for four years and a multi-stakeholder Platform will engage key actors across Europe in delivering a 50% reduction in food waste and a 20% reduction in food chain resource inputs by 2020.
We are continuing to explore how packaging can further contribute to preventing food waste.

See below for EUROPEN’s  publications, position papers and latest news. 


 [1] UN Food and Agriculture Organization (2011) Global Food Losses and Food Waste.

 [2] Bio Intelligence Service (2010) Preparatory Study on Food Waste across the EU-27, prepared for the European Commission DG Environment, and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (2011) Global Food Losses and Food Waste.