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European Parliament votes to ban supermarkets from binning unsold food

European Parliament votes to ban supermarkets from binning unsold food


Green Party MEP for Ireland South, Grace O’Sullivan, has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament to progress legislation to set legally binding targets to tackle food waste, including a ban on commercial operators, including supermarkets, from throwing away food that is still safe to eat. 


As part of the Revision of the Waste Framework Directive (Textiles and Food Waste), Member States must reduce food waste by 20% in food manufacturing, and by 40% in households, retail and restaurants by 2030. As part of the Directive, Member States will have to ensure that economic operators make available for donation unsold food that is safe for human consumption, which will see a ban on good food going to waste.


Speaking following a vote in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, O’Sullivan said: “Food waste is nothing short of a scandal, and I welcome the vote in the European Parliament to tackle this issue. The vote represents an important step forward for this legislation. Food waste is bad for the environment, it is bad for the economy, and it is socially unacceptable when there are people struggling to put good food on the table.


“75,000 tonnes of food is wasted by the retail and distribution sectors in Ireland every year - mostly vegetables, fruit, bread and meat. Only a minor portion of that is redistributed to charities. The problem of food being wasted before even reaching retailers is worse again - with over 215,000 tonnes of food waste in the manufacturing and processing industry. This is indefensible in this day and age.”


The most recent EPA study on food waste found that food waste costs the average Irish household 700 euro per year, a total annual cost of 1.29 billion. Food waste generates between 8-10% of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions. 


The Waste Framework Directive (Textiles and Food Waste) will now progress to Trilogue negotiations between the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the European Union, with a final agreement expected to be reached under the next European Parliament mandate following the European elections in June.


Note: The EPA’s latest report on Food Waste is available here

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