Throwaway plastic and food waste in Europe
A report by Friends of the Earth Europe finds that plastic food packaging is not a solution to growing levels of food waste in Europe, contrary to some claims that packaging can reduce food waste by extending the shelf life of foods. For example, using packaging to group food together in larger packs could encourage customers to buy more food than necessary. Another example is that green beans are often cut to fit into the packaging, causing losses of 30 to 40%.
The report makes several recommendations, including:
- Plastic packaging should be tackled in its social context, with an understanding of the driving forces behind its use
- Legislation should address both food waste and plastic packaging
- Use market-based instruments to reduce food and packaging waste, such as taxes on non-recycled plastics and deposit refund schemes
- Invest in waste prevention systems such as reusable packaging.
Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.