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WASTE-2-2014 - A systems approach for the reduction, recycling and reuse of food waste

Specific challenge: Food waste has taken on disquieting proportions worldwide in all steps of the food production and supply chain but especially at consumer level. Before defining measures to reduce such waste at all stages it is necessary to develop a better understanding of business and consumer behaviour in relation to waste generation, handling, reuse and by-product valorisation. Technologies for the collection, sorting/grading, stabilisation and valorisation of food waste, by-products and packaging material need improvement or development. The aim is to optimise the performance of the whole food system, including packaging, catering and consumers, and achieve a secure and sustainable food supply, also for the poor.

Scope: Proposals should both address approaches to reducing food waste and packaging materials generated at relevant stages of the food system and investigate ways of converting food waste into value-added by-products. A comprehensive methodology for evaluating food waste in all its components should be developed addressing quality, safety, sustainability, legislation and costs. Inter-disciplinary research methods include practical, close-to-market approaches for characterising possible new foods and feeds and identifying the risks and benefits related to the new production processes. A database/inventory should be developed of recyclable materials, valuable molecules, substances and materials originating from waste and by-products, also in view of future life cycle assessments (LCAs). Solid involvement of social sciences and humanities and civil society is a prerequisite to better understanding the socio-economic, cultural and environmental dimension of food waste and promoting change in the business and consumer environment for social innovation, while the use of ICT tools is expected to accelerate this. In line with the objectives of the EU's strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation and in particular with the implementation of the EU-China dialogue, proposals are encouraged to include third country participants, especially those established in China[1].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in  the range of EUR 9 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

  • A significant contribution to achieving the European policy target of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030, including at the consumer level.
  • A reduction in waste management costs, and in environmental impacts, including emission of greenhouse gases.
  • Supporting a harmonised approach to EU food waste legislation and improved national implementation, and contribution to new standards.
  • An increase in the competitiveness of the European food and drink and chemical industry, in particular SMEs, as measured in terms of market share, turnover, cost effectiveness, employment and intellectual property, through the development of innovative applications of food waste.

         Progress towards sustainable food consumption patterns leading to healthier consumers and as a result reduced national health costs.

Type of action:Research and innovation actions

[1]     This is without prejudice to the general rules on the funding of legal entities from third-countries, as set in part A of the annex to the work programme.