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How much food is wasted in the EU?

It is estimated that across the EU's 28 member states, 173 kilogrammes (381 lb) of edible food per person is wasted annually. This is almost two and half times the average weight of an EU citizen.

In total, food waste in the EU nations stands at 88 million tonnes and is expected to rise to about 126 million tonnes by 2020.

Across the world, the UN estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes, or about one third of all food produced globally for human consumption is wasted per year.

Food waste in the EU costs an estimated 143 billion euros ($153 billion) per year, which campaigners say could feed the 55 million people living in food poverty in Europe more than nine times over.

What does the European Parliament's environment committee do?

The committee's decision will shape the next 15 years of EU food waste policy and it is aimed at reducing food waste.

Campaigners have urged members of the parliament to vote in favour of halving food waste by 2030 and making the target legally binding for EU member states.

The committee is aiming to take lead from France and Italy, two countries which have already adopted laws to cut food waste.

Under a bill passed in France in 2015, supermarkets have to take measures to prevent food waste and donate any unsold but still edible food to charity or for use as animal feed or farming compost. All large-sized supermarkets have to sign contracts with a charity group to facilitate food donations.

Food waste prevention is a key part of the European Commission's "Circular Economy Package," a new legal framework to foster sustainable growth due to be enforced later this year.

The production and then disposal of EU food waste leads to the emission of 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which accelerates global climate change.

Who wastes the most food?

Households are the biggest wasters of food (53 percent), followed by food processing (19 percent), unlike in developing countries where most food waste happens because of poor infrastructure and distribution networks.

There is neither a single definition of food waste nor uniform data collection across the EU, but a 2013 study identified the Netherlands, Belgium, Cyprus and Estonia as the largest food wasters.

Who is more conscious?

Some EU countries, including France and Italy, already have adopted national measures to fight food waste.

At less than two percent, Britain has among the lowest levels of food redistribution, a system where out-of-date but edible food is redistributed to people in need via charities and food banks.

Source: Reuters