The call comes from Committee of the Regions’ (CoR) rapporteur, Ossi Martikainen (FI/ALDE), Municipal Councillor of Lapinlahti, who says the target will help meet the economic, environmental and social challenges created by the 20% of wasted food produced in Europe each year.
In his report adopted this week, he encourages local and regional authorities to take action by putting in place effective prevention and awareness programmes.
“There are a variety of means and innovative local initiatives for achieving the goal, long-time advocated by the CoR, of reducing food waste by 30% at EU level. Committing to an ambitious target is essential”
The CoR set out its recommendations on how local and regional authorities can help reduce food waste, and calls for sustainability criteria in public procurement aimed at reducing and preventing food waste; the use of local, regional and seasonal products in catering services; and for schools to include the issue of food-waste reduction as part of the curriculum – for instance through thematic days, study visits and students learning programmes.
The Committee also advocates for a common methodology and measurements at EU level to gauge the extent of food waste and measure progress towards a common, harmonised reduction goal right across the EU.
While 10% of the EU’s population is affected by food insecurity, 88m tonnes of food were wasted in the EU in 2012, or almost 173 kg per person. Preventing food waste is a key issue for achieving food security, one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. This is a challenge that European cities and regions have the power and will to meet.
“When so many go hungry each day, it is simply unacceptable that so much food goes to waste. The 30% target shows that local and regional governments are ready to act. From promoting awareness-raising, to shortening the supply-chain to food collections, local and regional governments can make a difference but they need the EU to lead the way,” said Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Fighting food waste requires concrete action on the ground by all players. In this respect, I would like to thank the Committee of the Regions for your work on the issue and in particular for your Opinion. I am indeed deeply convinced that our regions and cities have an important role to play on the issue of food waste because they generate and manage waste every day.
“This is why when I am visiting Member States I continuously raise awareness, particularly at the local level. They can implement concrete actions on the ground to fight food waste, working directly with citizens as well as a wide range of actors including schools, community markets, restaurants, food businesses and food banks or charitable organisations. I am particularly glad to hear that you will participate the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and I am looking forward to read your contributions on the subject.”
Ossi Martikainen said: “There are a variety of means and innovative local initiatives for achieving the goal, long-time advocated by the CoR, of reducing food waste by 30% at EU level. Committing to an ambitious target is essential. Especially because achieving it requires no specific financial support or budget. Reducing waste saves money and nature at the same time. This is a win-win situation.”