This article is part of our special report Products for a greener planet.
Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt explains why she wants to introduce restaurant "doggy bags" in Europe, and what the EU can do to diminish food waste.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt is a member of the European Parliament for the European People's Party (EPP). She sits on the Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO). She was interviewed at a EurActiv workshop on food waste.
Is there a problem in Europe with food waste?
We are throwing away more than 50% of what we produce. One-fourth of the plastic bags that we bring home are thrown away. This is unacceptable economically, ethically and from and environmental point of view. The good thing is that everybody can make an impact, and together we can make a difference.
It’s about looking at the temperature in your refrigerator at home, taking small portions instead of a big portion.
In the report from the European Parliament, we asked the Commission to help clarify the date labeling because a lot of people are throwing out food based on the “Best before” label which is a quality indication, but people think that this is about security. Instead it’s important to step away from this “throw away” culture that we have because we live in cities.
I grew up in the countryside and am used to this farmer culture where you for example teach the children in school the value of food, and to use your senses; touch, look, smell, instead of just throwing out.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn't respect food safety. It means that a lot of food that we are throwing out is edible.
I have introduced, for instance, in Sweden a lunch campaign on food waste; the doggy bag, just to mark the fact that in the restaurant, it shouldn’t be embarrassing to take it home like they do in the United States. Just bread and cake and some of the food that you have paid for, that is edible. Just bring it home. And I think it’s important that we teach our children that from an early age.
What should the EU do to encourage the diminishing of food waste?
I see a role mainly as an enabler, as a facilitators, as opinion builders… we should spread the right information and engage the stakeholders. There’s a lot they can do. They meet millions of people every day. They have the possibility to do research and innovation when it comes to plastic bags, taking into account that there are people that are just a one-person household.
Why do they have to sell 10 apples in a package when there are households with only one person? To have this “Buy three pay for two” kind of marketing… with fresh food it doesn’t help.
Europe has to be brought forward. It’s important that stakeholders and the food industry put a focus on food waste.