The Spanish Government has launched an ambitious campaign to reduce the almost eight million tonnes of food wasted every year.
European food waste in tonnes
Spain is the sixth largest producer of food waste with 7.7 million tonnes, after:
- Germany: 10.3 million tonnes
- The Netherlands: 9.4 million tonnes
- France: 9 million tonnes
- Poland: 8.9 million tonnes
- Italy: 8.8 million tonnes
Following the request by the European Parliament for its Member States to develop action plans against food waste, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment has developed the ‘More food, less waste‘ initiative. The strategy aims to decrease the amount of waste and to encourage dialogue and coordination between stakeholders within the food chain and public authorities.
The strategy is supported by AECOC – a Spanish manufacturing and distribution association. Over 100 of its major members, and the associations that represent them, have signed the ‘Food has no waste, use it’ guidelines, thereby declaring their commitment to prevent food waste along the food chain and to re-use the excess that is produced along this.
The strategy aims to involve all steps in the food chain, from production to post-harvest and development to distribution. It focuses on five core actions:
- a detailed study of food waste issues, focusing on why and how waste occurs;
- dissemination of good practice and public awareness;
- a review of policies;
- design and development of new technologies; and
- collaboration with other stakeholders.
In developed countries, more than 40 percent of food waste occurs in the final steps of the chain, namely at the retail and consumer stages (FAO: 2011). Moreover, a study by HISPACOOP (the Spanish Confederation of Consumers and Users Cooperatives) shows that 31.6 percent of food waste comes from unconsumed leftovers. Each Spaniard wastes on average 250 €/year in unused food; more than 45 percent of this is edible. In this context, the actions targeting public awareness and consumption practices take on greater relevance and importance.
In addition, the strategy supports the ‘What can I do?’ campaign; this provides all actors within the food chain with advice on how to waste less food.
Under the same framework, the ministry organised ‘The waste reduction week’ that took place between 4 and 10 November 2013 under the motto Buen Aprovecho. Reduce el desperdicio de alimentos. During this week, there were seminars and activities targeting hospitality professionals, catering schools, primary schools and consumers.
This is the first study to assess the extent of food waste carried out by the Spanish Government.
Technical Assistant – Water, WWF-Spain