16 September marks the start of the EU Horizon 2020 funded project "Resource Efficient Food and dRink for the Entire Supply cHain" (REFRESH). 26 partners from 12 European countries and China will work towards the project's goal to contribute towards the objectives of reducing food waste across Europe by 30% by 2025, reducing waste management costs, and maximizing the value from unavoidable food waste and packaging materials. REFRESH will run from July 2015- June 2019.
Food waste the third-biggest carbon emitter
Around 100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU (estimate for 2012). Modelling suggests, if nothing is done, food waste could rise to over 120 million tonnes by 2020.The food resources being lost and wasted in Europe would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world two times over (European Commission 2015). Together with moving to healthier diets reducing food waste both in and out of the home is the most significant demand-side measure for reducing the carbon impact of the food system.
Food waste reduction
REFRESH will focus on the reduction of avoidable waste and improved valorisation of food resources. Backed by research to better understand the drivers of food waste, the project will support better decision-making by industry and individual consumers. This project takes an innovative, systemic approach to curbing food waste through a holistic "Framework of Action". REFRESH will build on and go beyond existing initiatives to develop, evaluate, and ensure the spread of social, technological, and organisational insights and practices related to food waste. This will be underpinned with guidance to legislators and policy makers to help support effective governance to tackle food waste.
The project aims to:
- Develop strategic agreements to reduce food waste with governments, business and local stakeholders in four pilot countries (Spain, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands). A call for pilots will be issued for the business community and other stakeholders to participate in testing new approaches to reduce food waste and replicate these approaches into other countries.
- Formulate EU policy recommendations and support national implementation of food waste policy frameworks.
- Design and develop technological innovations to improve valorisation of unavoidable food waste, e.g. from food processing, and ICT-based platforms and tools to support new and existing solutions to reduce food waste.
Led by Wageningen UR, the project will run from 2015 until 2019. The REFRESH consortium represents a wide European and Chinese partnership with leading universities, research institutes, private businesses, governments, civil society and other actors and stakeholders. This consortium brings together an interdisciplinary team that has in-depth knowledge (both theoretical and practical) and a proven track record of working together effectively in national and cross-border research projects. The REFRESH team can build on the results and experience of the on-going FUSIONS project ("Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies").