FACTBOX - Food waste in the European Union

by Astrid Zweynert | azweynert | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 24 January 2017 17:00 GMT

A supporter of Germany's foodsharing movement searches food in a dumpster behind a supermarket in Berlin, January 31, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensc

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Food waste in EU estimated to total 173 kg per person per year, almost two and half times the average weight of an EU citizen

(Updates with results of vote)

LONDON, Jan 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - European Union countries were urged on Tuesday to halve food waste by 2030 but lawmakers stopped short of making the target binding - to the disappointment of environmental activists.

The European Parliament's environment committee in Brussels voted in favour of new regulations calling on EU nations to aim to reduce food produced and never eaten to 30 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030.

Food waste in the bloc is estimated to total 173 kg (381 lb)per person per year, almost two and half times the average weight of an EU citizen.

Food waste prevention is a key part of the European Commission's "Circular Economy Package", a new legal framework to foster sustainable growth due to be enforced later this year.

An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes, or about one third of all food produced globally for human consumption is lost or wasted per year, according to the United Nations.

Here are some more facts on food waste in the European Union:

* An estimated 88 million tonnes of food is wasted in EU countries every year, a number expected to rise to approximately 126 million tonnes by 2020 unless action is taken.

* Food waste in the EU costs an estimated 143 billion euros ($153 billion) per year, which campaigners say could feed the 55 million people living in food poverty in Europe more than nine times over.

* Households are the biggest wasters of food (53 percent), followed by food processing (19 percent), unlike in developing countries where most of it happens because of poor infrastructure and distribution networks.

* There is neither a single definition of food waste nor uniform data collection across the EU but a 2013 study identified the Netherlands, Belgium, Cyprus and Estonia as the largest food wasters.

* The production and disposal of EU food waste leads to the emission of 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which accelerates global climate change.

* Some EU countries, including France and Italy, already have adopted national measures to fight food waste.

* At less than two percent Britain has among the lowest levels of food redistribution, a system where out-of-date but edible food is redistributed to people in need via charities and food banks

SOURCES: U.N. FAO; European Parliament; FUSIONS; Wrap; This is Rubbish. ($1 = 0.9325 euros) (Reporting by Astrid Zweynert @azweynert , Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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