Press release 2016-03-31

New data on European food waste

New figures show that Europeans in average discard 173 kilograms of food per person and year. This is far more than earlier estimates have shown. All combined about 88 million tons of food ends up in the garbage. The largest contributors are households.

The EU-funded project Fusion, where IVL is a partner, has developed new estimates on the amount of food waste that is thrown away in Europe.

– Simply put, a lot of food is thrown away. That the numbers are higher than expected is partly because we have included data on agriculture waste as well, says Åsa Stenmarck, waste expert at IVL.

According to the new calculations every person in the EU throws away 173 kg of food waste per year, on average. This means that one fifth of all the food produced for the EU ends up as waste. This includes both edible and non-edible food, such as orange peel. Of the total 88 million tons of food waste that is thrown away each year, households account for the largest contribution (47 million tonnes). The total cost of our food waste is estimated to roughly 143 billion euros.

Research shows however that there still are large gaps regarding the data for food waste in the EU. The calculations are based on data from countries that currently are deemed as having reliable data on the amounts of food waste; about a quarter of all EU countries.

To enhance data collection and reporting a manual has been developed by the program. The manual will help assist relevant authorities in the EU states to introduce standardized measurements of food waste quantities. Food waste should be measured at every step of the food chain and the results reported in a uniform way, this so that the data from different countries will be comparable.

– With a common way to measure the amounts of food waste within the EU it will become easier to prioritize and take preventative actions – this in order to reduce food waste, says Åsa Stenmarck.

Read the report

For more information please contact:
Åsa Stenmarck, asa.stenmarck@ivl.se, phone +46 (0) 10-788 65 66

FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) is working towards achieving a more resource efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste. The project which runs for 4 years, from August 2012 to July 2016, has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 311972 and brings together 21 partners from across Europe under the coordination of Wageningen University & Research. Partners from Sweden are IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute och SP Sveriges Tekniska Forskningsinstitut.