Press release 2015-09-04

New project will reduce food waste in Europe

One third of all food produced is thrown to  waste, which makes it the third largest emission source of greenhouse gases. The 16th of September 2015 marked the start of the EU Horizon 2020 funded project "Resource Efficient Food and drink for the Entire Supply chain" (REFRESH), which will run from July 2015 to June 2019. The project aims to reduce food waste in Europe by 30 percent by 2025. The partnership involves 26 partners from twelve European countries and China.

Around 100 million tons of food is wasted every year in the EU. The problem is also increasing - calculations show that if nothing is done, food waste might within five years have increased to 120 million tons per year.

- Politically, there is a great interest in solving this issue. Reducing food waste is one of the most important measures for reducing the climate impact of the food system, says Åsa Stenmarck, waste expert at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.

REFRESH, "Resource efficient food and drink for the entire supply chain", is EU's new major investment in this area. The project brings together universities, research institutions, consumer organizations and companies in order to create a holistic approach to the issue. The Swedish partners are IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and SP. Research represents an important part in the project, both for better understanding of the driving forces of food waste and to support better decision-making, within the industry and among individual consumers.

REFRESH will also develop technological innovations that will better capitalize the food waste from the food industry, and also design various information platforms and support tools. These should allow increased and simplified information exchange, providing opportunities to identify and evaluate new opportunities for reduced shrinkage, disseminating results, and devising technical and policy recommendations for reducing wastage in the food chain.

Pilot projects will be implemented in Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Hungary, where strategic agreements with governments, businesses and local stakeholders will be developed to reduce food waste. An important part of the project is knowledge transfer with China. In this part, IVL plays an important role through the IVL office in China. The idea is not just to disseminate knowledge but also, for example, get state similar voluntary agreements to be created in the European pilot countries. REFRESH is financed by the EU Horizon 2020, the EU's framework program for research and innovation. It is led by the University of Wageningen, the Netherlands, and will run from 2015 until 2019.

For more information, please contact:
Åsa Stenmarck, asa.stenmarck@ivl.se