Wasting food is a global issue that creates significant environmental, economic, social and ethical problems.
Ireland, along with almost 200 other countries, has committed to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including – ‘By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses’.
Reducing food waste has positive social and environmental impacts. Furthermore, improving efficiencies in production and consumption leads to economic benefits throughout the food chain.
The Food Waste Charter for Ireland was introduced in response to the country’s commitment to achieve a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030. The Charter, introduced at the Forum on Food Waste – hosted by the EPA on 9th March 2017 – was signed into effect by The Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and the Director General of the Environmental Protection Agency, Laura Burke.
The Charter aims to provide a collective commitment for people, businesses and communities. This commitment involves implementing at least one food waste prevention action within the first year of signing up, and putting measures in place to carry out future actions by 2020.
Speaking before the event, EPA Director General, Laura Burke said – “The EPA is fully committed to providing leadership and support towards reducing food waste. This includes our ongoing work through the well-regarded stopfoodwaste.ie campaign. This programme can help householders to save up to €1,000 per year through simple actions to reduce food wastage – our estimates show, for example, that Irish householders throw away up to 50 per cent of salads and 20 per cent of bread.
“Ireland has the potential to be a world leader in tackling food waste – benefiting the environment and aligning with our ambitions to become the Green Food Island. This requires new and innovative solutions to reducing food waste. Many groups are already making significant strides to minimise food waste. We need to build on this work and mobilise businesses and individuals to undertake significant changes in food production and consumption.
“Through transforming our approach, we can increase efficiencies and maximise the associated social and environmental benefits to deliver a win-win scenario for all involved.”
Eulàlia Reverté i Casas, of the European Court of Auditors said – “A recent report from the European Court of Auditors highlights that food waste is a global problem and, as such, it requires action at all levels. The report calls for a more co-ordinated and consistent EU approach to combating food waste including the agreement of a common definition for food waste and a baseline from which to set meaningful and measurable targets for reducing food waste.”
No one section of the food system can reduce Ireland’s food waste. It is only through collaboration and a shared vision that this ambitious goal can be achieved.