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Review article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Is there a need for greater integration and shift in policy to tackle food waste? Insights from a review of European Union legislations

Eriksson, Mattias; Giovannini, Simone; Ghosh, Ranjan Kumar


Within the European Union, there is an increasing recognition about the negative environmental impacts of food waste making it a prominent policy issue. But there is no clarity whether policies aimed at food waste minimisation are based on sound legislative frameworks that actually empower the relevant actors. By carefully reviewing existing European Union legislations that are linked directly or indirectly to food waste, we identify the difficulties encountered by stakeholders and assess whether adaptations to the rules-in-use are beneficial and desirable. Our general finding is that liability for donated foodstuffs, date marking provisions, the flexibility principle provided by the European Union Hygiene Package and fiscal rules are the main policy elements affecting, either positively or negatively, food waste generation and management. Food donation for charitable purposes emerges as the predominant Pan-European Union waste management solution. While removing existing barriers for food donors and banks is fundamental—as it makes redistribution more effective—this does not tackle prevention of excess food generation. We conclude that while there are several European Union food legislations which include and impact food waste management options, they are hardly direct. Moreover, they often generate incentives that are at odds across stakeholders, thereby dampening the intended impact. There is, therefore, need for an integrated policy framework to tackle food waste specifically. For that to happen though, a pre-requisite is lot more empirical research on the interaction effects of various food waste legislations.


Food waste; Food donations; Waste framework directive; Policy and legislations; EU

Published in

SN Applied Sciences
2020, Volume: 2, number: 8, article number: 1347

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG12 Responsible consumption and production

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Law and Society
    Environmental Sciences
    Food Science

    Publication identifier


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