The problem of waste: What does the legislation say?

The problem of waste: What does the legislation say?

Food waste is a major global problem. 

  • Approximately 1 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally every year.
  • A third of all food produced is lost or wasted.
  • Food waste starts during agricultural production (when as much as 17% of food production may be wasted), and continues all the way to post-consumer waste and landfill.
  • About 13% of food is lost between harvest and retail, and more is wasted during retail and consumption.
  • Food waste and loss is a serious root cause of worldwide hunger – and it represents the loss of resources used to produce food too, including land, water, and energy. 

And it’s not a problem that can be solved at one level alone. Reducing food waste requires coordinated efforts from food producers and manufacturers, distributors and retailers, consumers, and post-consumer waste operators. So governments around the world are increasing their focus on waste reduction.

New food waste legislation in 2023

The United Nations has set a target to halve food waste globally by 2030. Regional legislation varies – but we’ve seen an uptick in governments establishing clearer frameworks for food waste this year. 

Last October, federal lawmakers in the US introduced new legislation to cut food waste. The bill, called the New Opportunities for Technological Innovation, Mitigation, and Education to Overcome Waste (also known as the NO TIME TO Waste Act) would create a new office for food loss and waste within the US Department of Agriculture. It would establish a number of programs to promote collaboration in the effort to reduce waste, enabling partnerships between public and private sector organisations, and between government bodies.

The European Union (EU) also plans to propose legally binding targets to reduce food waste across the EU. Member states would be required to cut food waste by 10% at the processing and manufacturing level by 2030; and restaurants, food services, and households will be required to cut waste by 30% within the same timeframe. 

Spain has also introduced a country-specific food waste reduction law in 2023. It requires that food operators and distributors formulate organised food waste reduction plans, and that supermarkets must drop the price of food when it gets close to its sell-by date; donate unsold food products to redistribution charities; turn unused food products into preserves and juices; or use it as animal feed. 

Reducing food loss and waste (FLW) are identified as critical action areas, both for the global climate and for the goal of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food for all. 

How does food waste legislation affect F&B businesses? 

Food waste legislation, and particularly the introduction of new laws, can have a significant impact on F&B businesses. 

It can: 

  • Increase costs. Compliance with legislation can require companies to invest in new equipment, staff, or processes in order to reduce waste.
  • Drive operational changes. Businesses might need to make significant changes to operations in order to comply with changes in legislation – such as separating waste from general waste, retraining staff, and arranging separate waste collections.
  • Change packaging requirements. Some businesses may be required to switch to more sustainable packaging materials or reduce the amount of packaging materials they use.
  • Change labelling requirements. Companies might have to include more detailed (or different) information on food labels – such as instructions on food storage to reduce waste, or expiration dates.
  • Restrict waste disposal options. Companies may be restricted from using cost-effective (but environmentally unsound) disposal options, like landfills; and require the exploration of alternative solutions, like composting on anaerobic digestion.

But food waste legislation can also create new opportunities for businesses to innovate – opening up the potential for new products or services that can reduce waste and potentially increase profitability.

At InFlavour, you’ll get ahead of industry shifts by absorbing the latest information about legislative change and future food waste targets. You’ll also have the opportunity to network with key partners in food tech and food waste solutions – to help you adapt to upcoming changes in food waste requirements. 

We can’t wait to see you there.

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