British lawmakers demand action from Juncker on food waste

Composting is the most common method for recycling food waste. [Ian Barbour/Flickr]

The House of Lords, along with 16 member states, sent a letter to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday (22 July) demanding that the EU crack down on food waste.

An estimated 89 million tonnes of food are wasted across Europe every year. This figure could rise to approximately 126 million tonnes by 2020 if no action is taken.

Globally, as much as half of all the food produced – equivalent to 2 billion tonnes – ends up as waste every year, according to the report Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not from 2013.

Therefore, lawmakers have proposed a ‘Green Card’ on the issue, which asks for a range of actions to cut down on waste. It includes better EU-wide guidelines on food donation and stronger monitoring of cross-border supply chains.

“Food waste is a huge issue, not just for us in the UK, but across Europe. With these 16 national parliaments signed up, we have shown the European Commission that there is a real collective desire to work together to tackle this problem. We look forward to seeing what proposals the Commission comes up with,” said Baroness Scott, chair of the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee in the House of Lords.

Until now national parliaments have been able to register objections to certain EU laws on the grounds of ‘subsidiarity’.

However, they have not had the opportunity or means to combine their proposals for new initiatives. The new Green Card idea is based on the EU Committee’s 2014 report on The Role of National Parliaments in the EU that allows national parliaments to join forces to make proposals to the Commission.

So far, the first ever Green Card from national parliaments is backed by 16 out of 41 chambers, including the national parliaments of France, Portugal and the Netherlands.

“Mr Juncker and his colleagues have made it clear that they want to engage better with national parliaments, so I sincerely hope that the Commission sits up and takes notice of our proposal. We’ve shown we can work together, across national boundaries, in order to give national parliaments, and the citizens they represent, a greater say in shaping the EU,” said Lord Boswell, chair of the Lords’ EU Select Committee.

Resource-efficiency is one of the seven flagship initiatives in the 'Europe 2020' strategy for sustainable growth and jobs, endorsed by EU heads of states in 2010.

The concept means decoupling economic growth from natural resource use – including raw materials, commodities, water, air or ecosystems.

The European Commission unveiled its Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe in September 2011, recommending the introduction of indicators and targets across the 27-nation bloc to measure the consumption of natural resources.

In June 2012, it set up a Resource Efficiency Platform in a bid to set new standards for more efficient use of resources in the EU.

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