FOOD WASTE DEFINITION

A) FUSIONS' Definitional Framework

Available scientific publications on the topic demonstrate a tendency from researchers and policy-makers to use and define the same terms (“food waste”, “food loss”, “avoidable food waste”, “unavoidable food waste”, “potentially avoidable food waste”, etc.) differently. Moreover, the definition of food waste (and its perimeter) has an impact on the way policies are shaped and on the way food waste is quantified across the different sectors of the food supply chain. 

FUSIONS has been working on providing a Definitional Framework to harmonise the current definition within the EU28 (see section 1 on Food Waste definition). According to FUSIONS, Food waste is any food, and inedible parts of food, removed from the food supply chain to be recovered or disposed (including composed, crops ploughed in/not harvested, anaerobic digestion, bio-energy production, co-generation, incineration, disposal to sewer, landfill or discarded to sea)”.

Drink and liquid waste, fish discarded to sea and waste of any materials that are ready for harvest, but which are not harvested, are included in FUSIONS’s definition of food waste, making its perimeter wider and broader than many other existing definitions. FUSIONS also considers inedible parts of food (e.g. skin, bones…) as food waste in order to support the development of resource efficient and sustainable food systems in the EU.

FUSIONS’ theoretical framework is provided in Figure 1 below:

For more information on the methodology to arrive at the FUSIONS definition, please refer to the FAQ section of our website.

 

B) FAO’s definition of food waste

Within the FAO’s definitional framework, food waste is delimited by two other notions: food loss, food waste and food wastage.

  • Food loss refers to a decrease in mass (dry matter) or nutritional value (quality) of food that was originally intended for human consumption. These losses are mainly caused by inefficiencies in the food supply chains, such as poor infrastructure and logistics, lack of technology, insufficient skills, knowledge and management capacity of supply chain actors, and lack of access to markets. In addition, natural disasters play a role.
  • Food waste refers to food appropriate for human consumption being discarded, whether or not after it is kept beyond its expiry date or left to spoil. Often this is because food has spoiled but it can be for other reasons such as oversupply due to markets, or individual consumer shopping/eating habits.
  • Food wastage refers to any food lost by deterioration or waste. Thus, the term “wastage” encompasses both food loss and food waste.” (FAO, 2013)

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