At the screening of Taste the Waste, a film by German movie director Valentin Thurn, we asked Roger Waite, the European Commission’s Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Development some questions about food waste in Europe.
What is the Commission doing about the problem of food waste?
At the moment there’s no clear legislation on this issue, but it’s coming very much on the agenda. We will shortly be issuing guidelines to member states on food waste, which is nonbinding, but at least it forces every member state to look at what they do to manage food waste. But at the same time we are talking about our sustainable action plan, in the Berlin green week for example and in resource management we are starting to look at food waste, so it’s starting to coming on to the political agenda.
We have all heard about the story of the bent cucumber. Should the EU have these standards when it clearly creates a problem?
The market should decide this question. It is not for legislation to decide if you can sell a bent cucumber for example. We have indeed changed that rule so your bent apple or potato is now possible to sell in the market, but again this is an issue for the market and the industry to decide, not the politicians.
What is the role of the industry to address this problem?
Well, they have the problem that they need to sell, but also that they work with limited resources. I imagine there is a way forward, partly to reduce the level of waste but above all to make sure that anything that is wasted is still used for something. There are possibilities for renewable energy and possibilities for fertilizing, and that is the sort of direction we need to go, but there is the broader question of if we are consuming too much. I’ve seen in the UK ministers asking if we should abolish the “buy one get one for free”, which tends to encourage overconsumption, and my hope is with films like this maybe consumers will become more aware of this particular problem and will be more careful about what they buy.
We are throwing food away while others starve every day; there is something wrong with this picture…
There is something wrong with that picture. And if you look at every single forecast we see that demand and consumption are rising much more quickly than supply, and therefore we have to be much more efficient in the future and yes consumers, the industry and maybe even the politicians will have to do something to make sure that this level of waste goes down.
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