food waste

The UK grocery industry’s approach to tackling food waste could become the basis for a model to be rolled out across Europe and China.

In a major new collaboration involving 13 different countries, the EU-funded Resource Efficient Food and Drink for the Entire Supply Chain (Refresh) project, which launched last week, will look to set up similar arrangements to those Wrap has with UK retailers and suppliers.

As part of the scheme - which involves governments, businesses and research institutes - Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Spain have already committed to test Wrap-style models, against the backdrop of what a recent House of Lords report described as a “scandal” of EU food waste levels.

Latest estimates suggest about 100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU and modelling suggests, if nothing is done, food waste could rise to over 120 million tonnes by 2020, enough to feed all the hungry people in the world two times over, according to the European Commission.

Refresh, led by Wageningen University in Holland, is part of an EU plan to slash waste by 30% by 2025.

A call for pilots will be issued for the business community and other stakeholders to participate in testing new approaches to reduce food waste, and replicate these approaches in other countries.

The project is also working with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

“Our work will be building on our globally recognised expertise in consumer food waste prevention, supply chain optimisation and voluntary agreements,” said a Wrap spokesman. “Wrap will also play a key part in contributing to understanding the wider economic and legislative factors that influence levels of food waste across Europe.”