Apr 12 2024

The revised Waste Framework Directive: Will it work?

Written by Orderly Marketing
sprouts growing in small steps

In a significant stride towards sustainability, the European Parliament has recently adopted ambitious proposals aimed at curbing food waste across the EU. This development marks a pivotal moment for both the environmental conservation and food management sectors. This development is critical as the EU grapples with the dual challenges of managing waste and mitigating climate change.

The Parliament’s adoption of its first reading position on the proposed revision of the Waste Framework Directive—with an overwhelming 514 votes in favour, 20 against, and 91 abstentions—signals a strong consensus on the need for more stringent measures.

The revised directive proposes notably tougher targets for food waste reduction that member states are expected to meet by the 31st of December 2030. These include a minimum 20% reduction in food processing and manufacturing waste—doubling the Commission’s initial proposal of 10%—and a 40% per capita reduction in retail, restaurants, food services, and households, a substantial increase from the proposed 30%. Furthermore, the Parliament has called on the Commission to evaluate the feasibility of setting even higher targets for 2035, aiming for at least 30% in food processing and manufacturing and 50% per capita in the sectors above. This ambitious stance underscores the EU’s commitment to tackling food waste as a critical component of its environmental strategy.

Small steps have a big impact.

The approach is small in scale but could have a big impact. It’s a multi-pronged attack, with the promotion of ugly vegetables on the consumer side, combating unfair market practices, clarifying date labelling, and encouraging the donation of unsold but consumable food.

Will it be enough to defeat the annual mass of food waste in the EU—amounts to a huge 60 million tonnes?

It could work if we get businesses and consumers alike to align with the new legislative framework. Consider South Korea, which, in just four years, decreased food waste by 300 tons per day by requiring citizens to pay a recycling fee for their food waste. Or take Denmark, which reduced food waste across the country by 25% in just five years. The issue still lies in measurement.

Progress requires a clear prognosis.

According to Robert van Otterdijk of the FAO, to reduce food waste, we need a complete instruction on what we all must take into account to reduce food loss and waste effectively.

As discussed in The Washington Post article, ‘This is why the world can’t stop wasting so much food’, the issue has always been the lack of an international standard on food waste. This means that goals can move, targets can be arbitrary, and progress can be greenwashed.

“One of the problems with addressing the issue of food waste is that there’s no international standard for how it should be dealt with, or even how it should be defined. For instance, some organizations identify food waste as any edible food that doesn’t end up consumed by humans. In contrast, other groups argue that discarded food later converted into animal feed should not be considered waste.”

While the European Parliament’s proposals set a high bar for waste reduction, they must be supported by the right technology, standards, and buy-in.

By leveraging technology to meet the evolving demands of waste reduction, we can all play a pivotal role in shaping a more sustainable future.

It’s time to prepare.

The European Parliament’s proposals represent great news for businesses like our own, who are here to support businesses as they bring down those levels of food waste, and now is the time to prepare.

At Orderly, we offer comprehensive analytics to decrease food waste and ways to make efficiency improvements across the food supply chain. These are crucial in enabling businesses to meet ambitious waste reduction targets.

See how we do it.