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Europe must stop wasting half the food on the continent, best before 2030

Press Release

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, expressed her support for a set of proposals to cut food waste in half by the end of the coming decade. 

The demands were spearheaded by Ms. Childers’ political grouping, the Socialists and Democrats, and have been endorsed by the European Parliament today, calling for the Commission to come forward with legislative proposals.

Speaking from Strasbourg this afternoon, Ms. Childers welcomed the decision by a majority in Parliament to endorse these demands:

“In Europe, we waste an estimated 20% of our food. Over half of this waste happens in our own homes, after the production and supply chains.

“This amounts to close to 90 million tonnes of food lost annually, and almost twice that weight in carbon emissions, at a cost of over 140 billion Euros.

“In Ireland, we waste 216 kg of food per person every year, against an EU average of 179 kg. This is a tale of colossal inefficiency and moral failure.

“It compounds the many pressures we are putting on the environment, state and household budgets and undermines our food security, at a time when about 10% of the EU population experiences some degree of lack of access to adequate food.

“We want to see this mountain of waste cut by half by 2030, because we know it can be done.

“A lot of our citizens are confused about the meaning and difference between “best before” and “use by’ labels, and end up consciously discarding perfectly edible food.

“In many EU jurisdictions, there are too many administrative hurdles and not enough financial incentives to food donation.

“We would like to see the Commission change VAT rules to explicitly exempt food donations from tax, and to see the EU food aid funding mobilised to cover the logistics of donating already existing food.

“I was gobsmacked to see the conservative wing of Parliament trying to scrap our demand to create a secondary market for fruit and veg that do not fall into usual supermarket specifications.

“Some progress was made on this front in 2008, and it’s high time we lift any such obstacles preventing perfectly good produce from finding its way into people’s presses.”