The use of single-use plastics in packaging has grown significantly in the last decades, and with it, the pollution of our environment. There is an urgent need to improve the sustainability of our food systems, which includes also the development of more sustainable food packaging. The objective of this study is to identify and examine successful examples and approaches to food packaging in the EU and beyond, considering consumer safety, environmental, economic, social, legal and food waste reduction considerations.
Food is at the centre of our lives and an integral part of the European culture. However, the food we eat, the ways we produce it and the amounts wasted have major impacts on human health, natural resources and society as a whole:
- Citizens –and children in particular– are increasingly suffering from overweight and obesity due to unhealthy diets.
- Farmers and workers do not get a fair price for their produce.
- One third of food is lost or wasted across the food chain.
- The environment is paying the bill with the dramatic effects of food production and consumption on climate change, loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution, soil degradation, etc.
The COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for change. It has demonstrated that getting food "from farm to fork" cannot be taken for granted and has shown the interconnectedness of actors and activities throughout the food system. Fair, resource efficient, inclusive and sustainable supply chains in the whole agriculture and food sector are needed more than ever to deliver equally for citizens, farmers, workers and business.
The EESC has been for years at the forefront of calling for a sustainable and comprehensive food policy. Such an integrated and systemic approach is essential to tackle the multiple and interconnected challenges affecting food systems; to deliver economic, environmental and socio-cultural sustainability; to ensure integration and coherence across policy areas (such as agriculture, environment, health, education, trade, economy, technology, etc.); and to promote cooperation across levels of governance.
The EESC Permanent Study Group on Sustainable Food Systems aims to contribute to the development of a comprehensive food policy in the EU. This leaflet presents its main priorities and ongoing work.
Interpreted version of the debate: listen to the podcast in the language of your choosing. Available languages:
Food security concerns us all, because it is about the earth's resources, which we all share and use, and because food is vital for life. That’s why we need to ensure that everybody in the world has enough food to eat or the resources and means to grow their own food. Today, 16 October, is World Food Day. For us in the wealthy Europe it is a day to reflect and to consider what we can do to contribute to a change.
Opening Speech at the session Food Market: Polish food sector vs. global raw material crisis – to survive or to win? at the III European Economic Congress in Katowice, Poland.