Waste

The European food and drink sector recognises that when food is wasted, the resources that were invested into producing the food (the raw materials, water, fertilisers and fuel) are also wasted. Tackling food waste is therefore a priority issue for the industry.

Most of the resources used in the food and drink sector are of agricultural origin. Due to their biological nature, virtually every part of an agricultural crop has a useful application. Using these resources in a highly efficient manner makes good business sense to food producers.

Progress

Food and drink manufacturers are constantly striving to use 100% of agricultural resources wherever possible and find uses for by-products not only as food, but also animal feed, fertilisers, cosmetics, lubricants and pharmaceuticals. The industry is exploring and investing in other innovative outlets such as bio-plastics and biofuels. These actions improve resource efficiency, help reduce agricultural pressures on the environment and generate higher added value from a unit of agricultural raw material. This contributes to the food industry making the transition towards a bio-based, low-carbon economy.

When waste prevention at source is not feasible, other options for food waste management include re-use, recycling and recovery. There is no single best option for the management of food waste diverted from landfill, and environmental benefits of the different management options depend significantly on local conditions such as population density, infrastructure and climate.

However, the following are considered as the most environmentally effective methods by the European food and drink industry:

  • Bio-energy
  • Composting
  • Recycling

Opportunities

  • Awareness-raising on food waste
  • Full utilisation of raw materials
  • Research and development to achieve further breakthroughs in the optimised use of raw materials and alternative methods of food production
  • Clearly defined by-products and flexible policy framework