New definitional framework of food waste proposed by European FUSIONS project

Harmonisation in quantification of food waste

European-funded food waste prevention project FUSIONS has developed a framework for defining food waste to help streamline food waste quantification and data gathering across Europe. The FUSIONS framework for defining food waste separates and defines all resource flows in the food supply chain. If this system is used consistently, it will lead to a clear understanding of where food waste arises in the supply chain and how it is being managed, generating comparable estimates, at all stages of the food supply chain and across all EU28.


Framework supports policy-makers
The current situation, in which many different definitions are used, leads to food waste estimates that include different fractions of waste which makes them difficult to compare and potentially difficult to monitor trends. A common framework for defining food waste will support policy-makers at both EU and Member State level by enabling them to accurately track the rate of reduction and effectiveness of their waste prevention strategies. It signals a key step towards improving the understanding of the food waste challenge in Europe and its consistent use will help to measure progress towards both resource efficiency and food security goals.

Food Waste definition
The proposed food waste definition, given below, is based on an analysis of the range of definitions used to date and expert consultation, including the Members of the FUSIONS multi-stakeholder Platform and the External Expert Advisory Board. It is complemented by a comprehensive and descriptive framework:

Food waste is any food, and inedible parts of food, removed from the food supply chain to be recovered or disposed (including - composted, crops ploughed in/not harvested, anaerobic digestion, bioenergy production, co-generation, incineration, disposal to sewer, landfill or discarded to sea).

The definition covers both food and drink waste, and hence both solid and liquid disposal routes. Where possible, the edible and inedible fraction should be separately analysed or estimated, but including inedible parts of food within the framework is key to ensuring that it can be practically used by stakeholders in all parts of the food supply chain. Furthermore, monitoring both edible and inedible fractions, together or separately where possible, will ensure that the overall resource efficiency of the food system is taken into account when assessing its sustainability.

Food Waste Quantification Manual
The definition will serve as a basis for further methodological work in FUSIONS, in particular the development of a Food Waste Quantification Manual, providing EU Member States with a recommended methodology for measuring food waste. To contribute to this work, FUSIONS has reviewed the current reporting methods and statistics as used within the EU Waste Directive by EUROSTAT and other literature resources.

All reports can be downloaded at

Food is used to cover both food & drink.

FUSIONS (Food Use for Social Innovation by Optimising Waste Prevention Strategies) is working towards achieving a more resource efficient Europe by significantly reducing food waste. The project runs for 4 years, from August 2012 to July 2016, is funded by the European Commission framework programme 7 and brings together 21 partners from across Europe under the coordination of Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research. Its overall objective is to contribute to the harmonisation of food waste monitoring and the development of food waste related policy for EU28. The External Expert Advisory Board includes representatives from EC DG Environment, DG SANCO, DG AGRI, FoodDrinkEurope, UNEP, OECD, and WWF.


For further information contact:

BIO by Deloitte, leading on FUSIONS Dissemination Work Package
Clementine O’Connor :   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

SIK, leading on FUSIONS Quantification Work Package

Karin Östergren :   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wageningen UR, Coordinator to FUSIONS
Toine Timmermans :   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can follow FUSIONS on Facebook (EU FUSIONS) and Twitter (@EU_FUSIONS).

Partners and Supporters