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Projects and activities | Last updated: 10 Jun 2024

European Consumer Food Waste Forum

The Joint Research Centre, in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), has set up a multi-disciplinary forum to address consumer food waste. Researchers and practitioners work together to find solutions and develop tools to help reduce consumer food waste.

Context

The amount of food wasted during its production and consumption is staggering. While around 20% of food produced in the EU is lost or wasted, some 33 million people cannot afford a quality meal every second day.

Food waste has a significant environmental and climate impact and it puts an unnecessary burden on limited natural resources, such as land and water use. Globally, if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States. Food waste reduction is thus key for the establishment of sustainable food systems and the deployment of a circular bioeconomy, in which biological resources are used sustainably. Moreover, the recovery of surplus food for redistribution to those in need has an important social dimension and ensures that more food is made available for human consumption.

The Farm to Fork Strategy puts forward a series of actions to enable the EU’s transition to a sustainable food system. The Strategy includes ambitious proposals to establish targets to reduce food waste across the EU by end 2023, and to revise EU rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates) by end 2022.

The highest share of food waste is generated at the consumption stage, including households and food services. The food groups that are most wasted are vegetables, fruits and cereals.

Consumer food waste is essentially a behavioural issue and reducing such waste is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal Target 12.3 of halving the amount of food waste per capita by 2030.

The Joint Research Centre, in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), has set up the European Consumer Food Waste Forum in order to address consumer food waste. Researchers and practitioners work together to find solutions and develop tools to help reduce consumer food waste. The EC Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy coordinates the dissemination of the Forum's activities.

Objectives

The project’s aim is to gather data and identify a variety of evidence-based, practical solutions to reduce food waste at the consumer level, including household and food services. The forum will issue research- and evidence-based recommendations and develop tools to help reduce consumer food waste, aiming to produce a compendium of best practices to facilitate uptake of effective interventions. These will contribute to the work of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste and that of other players to help reduce consumer food waste.

The project has been running for almost two years, plus there will be one dedicated to the dissemination activities.

Objectives and expected outcomes of the project:

  • Review of evidence on drivers of consumer food waste and levers for behavioural change;

  • Research and data collection on interventions to prevent and reduce consumer food waste, in particular in EU Member States;

  • Evaluation of the identified interventions based on their feasibility, reach and effectiveness;

  • Definition of research protocols and recommendations for effective interventions and further research, to be tailored and carried out at national and regional levels;

  • Development of a compendium of multi-dimensional, multi-level, evidence-based set of tools that can be applied by the EU Member States, regional and local administrations.

The Forum

In July 2021, a public call was launched to find practitioners and researchers in the area of consumer food waste prevention to collaborate in the forum. As a result, 15 practitioners and researchers have been selected, and the forum began its work in October 2021.

The forum’s deliverables will be multi-level in order to address the role and needs of consumers as well as other key players engaged in food waste reduction (such as national governments, local authorities, educational institutions, primary producers, companies, non-governmental organisations and other relevant groups).

The experts

The members of the forum will identify and develop multi-dimensional tools to support the implementation of effective food waste prevention interventions. They will consider the motivation of consumers as well as their ability to change their food waste-related behaviour. The tools will include proposals to improve action design, monitoring and evaluation of interventions as well as knowledge sharing in the field.

All the experts chosen for the Forum’s work come from different countries. They work in academia, NGOs and public institutions alike. They have been involved in food waste prevention campaigns and behaviour change interventions. Some of them are also involved in the work of the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste.

To browse through the biographies of the experts, click here.

Event at the European Parliament

How can we reduce food waste?
Solutions from the European Consumer Food Waste Forum

The compendium of best practices, tools and recommendations was presented at a high-level event at the European Parliament on 29 June 2023. The experts of the Forum shared their experience on several food waste reduction actions (e.g. city-level actions, national school programmes, food business initiatives, and prompts and tools for households). The event was a timely opportunity for the participants to learn about the perspectives of policy makers and the solutions and tools proposed and to discuss key outcomes with the Forum members.

Slides presented at the event

Compendium

The main outcome of the European Consumer Food Waste Forum’s work is presented as a compendium of tools, best practices, and recommendations to help all key players engaging in actions to prevent food waste. The document shows the main findings of the collaboration, emphasising the importance of taking a systemic approach that considers the key drivers and levers of behavioural change when targeting food waste reduction at the consumer level. It provides policymakers, researchers, businesses, and practitioners a set of recommendations to take action against consumer food waste. The compendium encourages cooperation with other stakeholders and concrete actions to address food waste and promote the establishment of sustainable food systems.

Tools, best practices and recommendations to reduce consumer food waste - A compendium

Executive summary of the compendium (in all EU languages)

Leaflets

Based on the main findings of the Compendium, informative leaflets  listing useful advice and best practices to reduce consumer food waste – have been published in all EU languages, addressing the following three different groups: policymakers, food businesses and other organisations, and schools. 

Reducing consumer food waste: Recommendations for policymakers

Reducing consumer food waste: Recommendations for food businesses and other organisations

Reducing consumer food waste: Recommendations for schools

Public event on 5 June 2024

Let’s reduce consumer food waste!
Solutions from the European Consumer Food Waste Forum

On 5 June 2024 we will gather actors working on reducing consumer food waste to share the latest initiatives, including those addressing consumer behaviour change, and to discuss how the solutions of the European Consumer Food Waste Forum can support their work. The conference will have an interactive format to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking between participants and experts, and will include:

  • A panel discussion in plenary with public authorities and practitioners with experience in preventing consumer food waste; 

  • Parallel sessions on specific topics where leading experts in the field will share their experience and discuss with participants;

  • Parallel sessions where participants can present their consumer food waste prevention actions and receive feedback from experts in this field; and 

  • A showcase of effective actions giving the possibility for participants to discuss them with the experts.

The main language of the event will be English, with simultaneous interpretation to French, Spanish, Italian, German and Dutch. Partial web-streaming will also be available in these languages. You can find the detailed agenda on the event page.

Toolkit to reduce consumer food waste

A Toolkit to reduce consumer food waste has been developed under the European Consumer Food Waste Forum project, to support decision makers in their actions towards food waste reduction. This wide set of tools include:

  • Three Video tutorials to effectively support decision making to measure food waste, evaluate food prevention actions, and tailor food waste prevention actions for specific consumer groups;

  • A video summarising the outcomes of the European Consumer Food Waste Forum

  • The Food waste prevention calculator, an interactive online tool based on Life cycle thinking to understand the impacts of our waste (or avoided waste) from food production to consumption;

  • The Food waste action planner, an interactive online tool classifying more than 70 food waste prevention actions;

  • Informative leaflets in 24 EU languages for advice and best practices addressed at policymakers, food businesses and organisations, and schools.

  • Scientific reports and communication material on the practical solutions described above.

 

Project timeline

  1. October 2021
  2. December 2021
  3. April 2022
  4. April 2023
  5. June 2023
  6. 29 June 2023
  7. September 2023
  8. October 2023
  9. 5 June 2024

Latest knowledge from this Project