Reducing food waste across EU
MEPs called on the Commission to lift donations restrictions
13 April, 2017
Environment MEPs put forward last Tuesday a number of possible measures to cut the EU 88 million tonnes per year food waste by half by 2030, the EP press service reported. MEPs called on the Commission to lift existing restrictions on food donations and stressed a solution is needed for the confusion created for many consumers by the “best before” and “use by” labelling.
“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,” lead MEP Biljana Borzan (S&D, HR) said. “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,” she added.
MEPs call on EU countries to achieve food waste cuts by 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030, reiterating the objective Parliament set out in its waste legislation voted in March. National authorities and stakeholders need to educate consumers in the understanding of the difference between “use by” and “best before” dates and the usability of foodstuffs after the “best before” date, MEPs stated. The Commission will have to assess the possible benefits of removing certain dates for products without any risk to public health or the environment.
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 get the possibility to finance the cost of collecting, transporting, storing and distributing food donations.
“We should address the shortcomings of existing EU legislation where it hinders food donations. We need to update our common VAT system to allow for tax exemptions. A form of ‘good Samaritan’ legislation at EU level could lead to greater volumes of food being donated and reducing food being wasted, without compromising current standards of food safety,” Biljana Borzan pointed out.
The report was adopted unanimously by Environment MEPs. It will be put to a vote by the full House during the 15-18 May plenary session in Strasbourg.
Exactly a month ago, EP plenary voted in support of a 50% reduction by 2030. In the draft amendments to the “waste package” legislation, MEPs voted on four waste-management directives, but mainly focused on waste accumulated from households and small firms, which account for 8% of all waste. MEP stressed that around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted each year in the EU, enough to feed the 55 million Europeans living in food poverty.