News - January 26, 2017

New: taskforce to combat food waste

Albert Sikkema

At the National Food Summit in The Hague today, WUR is launching a taskforce called Circular Economy for Food. The participating food producers – ranging from small to medium enterprises to multinationals – are going to join forces to halve food waste between now and 2030.

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There are already a lot of initiatives aimed at preventing food waste, says initiator Toine Timmermans, programme manager for Sustainable Food Chains at WUR. But none of these solutions over the past few years have led to a real reduction in food waste in the Netherlands. So the strategy of the new umbrella Taskforce, set up at the beginning of January, will be to connect up the various solutions and to create the right conditions. New legislation will be designed to stimulate the recycling of food waste, and companies will be expected to revamp their production processes so as not to produce any more waste.

Timmermans is pleased that leading lights such as Dick Boer of Ahold Delhaize and Feike Sijbesma of DSM ambassadors are members of the Taskforce, and that 80 percent of the 25-member group are entrepreneurs and directors from the food industry and the retail branch. WUR set up the Taskforce together with the ministry of Economic Affairs and the Alliance for Sustainable Food, in which the food industry promotes sustainable production processes.

Food waste often gets blamed on the supermarkets, says Timmermans, but actually they discard relatively little food. Consumers are the biggest culprits, but food producers waste a lot too. So 100 food producers are going to share their experiences of trying to prevent waste in the Taskforce. Timmermans is coordinating a European-wide research programme on food waste called Refresh.