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Food Waste Report: The EU wastes more food than it imports


A study shows the extent of food waste in Europe: 153 million tons of food end up in the garbage every year - more than is imported. The authors are now calling for legally binding targets.

Enlarge image

Stale bread in front of a bakery in Antwerp, Belgium: Around 150 million tons are wasted in the EU every year

Photo: isslerimages / IMAGO

Food waste is a contentious issue.

On the one hand, many items, such as crooked carrots, are sorted out with reference to visual defects.

On the other hand, in Germany it is forbidden to take usable food out of rubbish bins, called containers.

The extent of the waste has now been examined for the first time at EU level.

According to a report by the Feedback EU foundation, more food is wasted in the European Union than is imported.

This also has economic consequences.

The Guardian, which reported on the evaluation, writes that food inflation would be almost eliminated if the sorting of food in farms could be curbed.

In 2021, the EU imported nearly 138 million tonnes of agricultural produce from outside its borders, the report said.

"These imports are dwarfed by the amount of food - 153.5 million tonnes - wasted in the EU every year."

The unknown climate effect

The amount of wheat discarded in the EU alone is equivalent to about half of Ukraine's wheat exports and a quarter of the EU's other grain exports, the study said.

"The food crisis linked to the war in Ukraine makes it clear that the global food system, already shaken by climate change and the corona pandemic, needs to be reformed to ensure long-term resilience and sustainability," the authors write.

The authors of the report also point out the climate effect of food waste.

According to this, food waste in the EU is responsible for at least six percent of the total emissions and costs the EU more than 143 billion euros annually.

"Food waste is a global challenge that imposes a significant environmental, social and economic burden on all countries and regions," says the report.

"We urge the European Commission to set a legally binding target of a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030."

Such a requirement would also help the EU to meet national and international climate commitments.

So far, no official EU baseline data for on-farm food waste in 2020 has been published.

The study is therefore based on calculations of the Food Waste Index of the UN Environment Program and a WWF meta-study, both from 2021. The report assumes about 90 million tons of food waste in primary production - three times more than household waste.

According to the authors, waste is greater in high-income countries than in lower-income countries.

However, most of the waste is probably not even recorded, writes the Guardian, because food that is not harvested, not used or not sold on farms is usually not taken into account.

An estimated 20 percent of food production in the EU is wasted every year.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-09-20

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