After 51 organisations and 64,000 people in the EU backed a campaign to reduce food waste, MEPs voted today (14 March) in support of a 50% reduction by 2030.
In the draft amendments to the “waste package” legislation, MEPs voted on four waste-management directives, but mainly focused on waste accumulated from households and small firms—which account for 8% of all waste.
MEP Simona Bonafè, the author of the four directives on waste reduction and recycling, was backed by a large majority in the European Parliament, according to the Socialists and Democrats Group.
Around 88 million tonnes of food are wasted each year in the EU—enough to feed the 55 million Europeans living in food poverty more than nine times over.
“This is one of Europe’s biggest environmental and humanitarian crises, and it will only get worse if policy makers don’t come up with a legally binding framework to prevent this,” said Piotr Barczak, waste policy officer for the European Environmental Bureau, a green campaign group.
With this vote, by 2030 the share of recyclable waste should rise to 70%, from 44% today, that of food wast to 50% and landfilling will be limited to 5%.
The text approved today also includes an 80% target for recycling packaging waste, mandatory separate collection for main waste streams (including biowaste, waste oils and textiles), increased use of economic instruments (such as landfill and incineration taxes and deposit-return schemes) and more clarity on the decontamination of hazardous components in waste.
These steps will help towards creating a circular economy in Europe, where as few resources as possible will be wasted.
EU ministers are expected to take a position on the circular economy strategy in the coming months. The text represents Parliament’s negotiating position ahead of talks with the Council.
The Parliament also called on the Commission to consider the possibility of making these food waste reduction targets legally binding by 2020.
“Binding targets are vitally needed to face the urgent challenges of climate change, land and water depletion, and food poverty. We see time and again that voluntary codes have uneven rates of uptake and often deliver lacklustre results, whereas binding regulation delivers a level playing field and leads to swift and dramatic improvements,” said Martin Bowman, campaigner for This Is Rubbish, the organisation that led the campaign.
“Today’s vote is a major step towards a circular economy. We want to move away from a ‘take, make, dispose’ model with a fast-turnover principle to an economy where products are designed to last and can be repaired, reused, recycled, and remanufactured,” Bonafè said.