The extremely unequal distribution of food worldwide has generated a paradox: while almost a billion citizens do not have access to healthy food, a part of the global population can afford to buy food in excess and – more importantly – generate enormous food losses and waste (FLW), with high economic, environmental and social costs. The EU has been working to find a comprehensive solution to this problem, with the aim of changing the current paradigm that tolerates good food being allowed to rot away. This paper explores the opportunities deriving from the latest EU efforts against FLW and, in particular, the Circular Economy Package, which includes waste legislation that is in line with UN goals on sustainable development. Several gaps have yet to be filled, but the mix of ambitious European and domestic laws, virtuous practices on the part of private companies, and a radical change in consumers’ habits are key to giving back to food the value it deserves.
1. Defining and estimating the costs of food losses and waste
2. The EU’s actions to tackle food losses and waste
2.1 The first steps
2.2 Launching an EU circular economy
2.3 An assessment of the EU’s actions against food losses and waste
3. The fight against food losses and waste: two case studies
Conclusions and future areas of research