MEPs advocate efforts to halve by 2030 food waste in the EU, by lifting existing restrictions on food donations and eliminating confusion about “best before” and “use by” labels.
“In developed countries food is wasted mostly at the end of the chain, at distribution and consumption. Everyone has a responsibility to tackle this problem”, said lead MEP Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR). “My report calls for a coordinated policy response on labelling, liability and education, as most consumers do not understand the precise meaning of “best before” and “use by” labelling. Moreover, we should address the shortcomings of existing EU legislation where it hinders food donations”, she added. Her resolution was adopted on Tuesday by 623 votes to 33, with 20 abstentions.
MEPs call on EU countries to achieve food waste cuts of 30% by 2025 and a further 50% by 2030 (compared to 2014) – an objective Parliament introduced in waste legislation voted in March.
National authorities and stakeholders should do more to help consumers to understand “use by” and “best before” labels, including the fact that food can be eaten after the “best before” date. The Commission will have to assess the possible benefits of removing certain dates for products without any risk to public health or the environment.
Facilitate food donations
The Commission should also propose a change in the VAT Directive that would explicitly authorise tax exemptions on food donations. The EU Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) should be used to finance the cost of collecting, transporting, storing and distributing food donations.
In the EU, food waste has been estimated at some 88 million tonnes, or 173 kg per capita per year. The production and disposal of this food waste leads to the emission of 170 million tonnes of CO2 and consumes 26 million tonnes of resources.