Report by The House of Lords EU Committee reveals the UK waste 15 million tonnes of food each year

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th April 2014
The House of Lords EU Committee has today called for urgent action on food waste in Europe highlighting that at least 90 million tonnes of food is wasted across the EU each year. In a report published today, the Committee urges action on the basis that food waste represents a financial and environmental loss of resources. The 15 million tonnes of food wasted in the UK each year equates to a financial loss to business of at least £5 billion per year. Environmentally, the carbon footprint of worldwide food waste is equivalent to twice the global greenhouse gas emission of all road transportation in the USA. Baroness Scott of Needham Market, Chairman of the Committee, said: “Food waste in the EU and the UK is clearly a huge issue. Not only is it morally repugnant, but it has serious economic and environmental implications. The fact that 90 million tonnes of food is wasted across the EU each year shows the extent of the problem and explains why we are calling for urgent action. Globally, consumers in industrialised nations waste up to 222 million tonnes of food a year, which is equivalent to nearly the entire level of net food production of sub-Saharan Africa. “We were shocked at the extent of food waste in the EU. Especially given the current economic challenges the EU faces, it is an absolutely shocking waste of resources. Some efforts are already being made, which is very positive, but much more can be done, and so we are calling on the EU, the Government, businesses and consumers to make sure it is.” The report also calls for retailers, and in particular the big supermarkets who dominate food sales in the UK, to act more responsibly in limiting food waste by both farmers and consumers. In particular the Committee says that supermarkets should move away from incentives such as ‘buy one get one free’ for certain types of produce, which may result in more food waste at home. It is estimated that millions of tonnes of food is wasted annually in this way. The Committee are also calling for Government action to encourage retailers to redistribute unsold food, where safe, for human and animal consumption rather than to be recycled via anaerobic digestion. They suggest that VAT rates could be amended and tax breaks offered to encourage supermarkets to donate edible unsold food to food banks rather than sending it to be composted. This would form part of a refocussing of EU policy in this area away from a ‘waste hierarchy’ toward a ‘food use hierarchy’ that stresses the use by humans of food initially intended for human consumption. The Committee finds that efforts across the EU to reduce food waste are ‘fragmented and untargeted’ and call on the new European Commission, to be established in November, to publish a five-year strategy on food waste prevention within six months of taking office. Read the full report here.
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th April 2014

Report by The House of Lords EU Committee reveals the UK waste 15 million tonnes of food each year