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Plenary Meeting, 8th December 2011

 

European Food SCP Round Table Plenary Meeting

8th December 2011, 10.00 to 16.00 hours

Résidence Palace, International Press Centre, 1040 Brussels

 

 

In December 2011, the European Food Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Round Table held its second annual meeting to adopt its report on "Communicating environmental performance along the food chain". The meeting was well attended by many stakeholders, including representatives of nearly every stage of the food supply chain, government, non-governmental organisations, media and the scientific/research community.  
 
The Plenary meeting was co-chaired by Round Table Steering Committee Co-Chair Herbert Aichinger on behalf of Soledad Blanco, Industry Director at the European Commission DG Environment and Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General at Copa-Cogeca. 

 

Plenary

 

The Co-Chairs welcomed participants to the Plenary and explained that the event will take stock of progress achieved to date. The keynote speakers discussed the increasing importance of SCP and outlined how stakeholders are working together to achieve resource efficiency.

 

The keynote speakers discussed the increasing importance of SCP and outlined how stakeholders are working together to continuously improve environmental performance along the food chain and enhance resource efficiency.

 

      

Alan Seatter, Deputy Director General, DG Environment

Alan Seatter explained that 82% of European consumers believe that they throw away almost no food at all, which does not reflect real waste patterns of well over 2 kg a week. Mr. Seatter also outlined how current studies estimate productivity gains from resource efficiency to be valued globally at $350 billion annually. As such, the productivity gains from tackling waste in the food and drink sector could be quite substantial

Alan Seatter
Mr Eric Poudelet, Director of the Safety of the Food Chain, DG SANCO

Eric Poudelet explained that preventing food waste is a priority for DG SANCO and this will be a key focus over the coming months. The issues around environmental footprints and life cycle analyses are very important as well. Information to consumers must be clear and reliable, he stated, adding that too much information should be avoided. Mr. Poudelet emphasised that the work of the Food SCP Round Table is extremely useful in this sense and the work of Working Group 2 on Environmental Information Tools is particularly important as it provides ideas for the future.

Eric Poudelet’s presentation

Name
Fanny Demassieux, Resource Efficiency Coordinator and focal point for food and agriculture within the SCP division, UNEP

Fanny Demassieux provided an overview of how SCP debates around food and agriculture are developing outside of Europe and explained that if the world’s population adopted Westerns consumption habits, we would need two planets by 2050. Commitment on this issue at international level is important in order to move from a voluntary approach to an internationally agreed commitment. The EU, along with other countries including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Croatia, the G77, and CARICOM are requesting the adoption of a 10 year framework programme on SCP. An overall investment into green growth worldwide of 2% of GDP would bring significant benefits to the global economy.

Fanny Demassieux’s presentation

Fanny Demassieux
Beata Wiszniewska, First Counsellor in the Environmental Section of the Polish Permanent Representation to the EU

Beata Wiszniewska stated that many consumers are concerned about environmental issues, but few translate this concern into purchases, particularly during periods of austerity. It was suggested that it is a task for regulators, educators and business to help consumers who wish to consume more sustainably to overcome the value-behaviour gap. She stated that the provision of information that is clear, reliable, understandable and not misleading is a first step, because consumers need relevant information at the point-of-sale to make informed purchases. She suggested that behavioural economics may also offer some ways to ‘nudge’ people to consume more sustainably. New technologies (e.g. RFID and smart phones) also offer possibilities.

Beata Wiszniewska
Pascal Gréverath, Steering Committee Co-Chair

Pascal Gréverath presented the progress of the Food SCP Round Table and explained that Working Group 1 on Environmental Assessment Methodologies will focus on the drafting of the ENVIFOOD Protocol in 2012. This will be tested through pilot case studies and fine-tuned based on the test results. Scoping/position papers on current practice, existing guidance, and the need for development of product-specific guidance documents and for the development of product-group specific and other background data will also be developed in 2012. Working Group 3 will finalise its report on Continuous Environmental Improvement and its mandate will be completed at the end of the first quarter of 2012. The Steering Committee Co-Chair invited other relevant experts, such as national authorities, the scientific community, NGOs and academia to participate in the Round Table.

Pascal Gréverath’s presentation

Pascal Gréverath
 
Jeroen Van Laer, Co-Chair Working Group 2 on Environmental Information Tools

Jeroen Van Laer presented the report “Communicating environmental performance along the food chain”. Following 12 meetings, preparatory work, intensive discussions, consultations with existing schemes and initiatives, and a public consultation, Working Group 2 on Environmental Information Tools has finalised a number of recommendations. The report recognises that there are many different ways for food chain partners to communicate environmental performance and gathers 84 strengths and 98 challenges. It concludes that communicating environmental information is best achieved by using a multi-pronged approach.

Jeroen Van Laer’s presentation

Jeroen Van Laer
Florence Scarsi, French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development

Florence Scarsi explained that the repository of France’s product environmental footprint has been finalised and will be adopted in January 2012. The case studies involve life cycle analysis and footprinting. The majority of the initiatives concern carbon footprinting. Companies are using multiple channels to communicate information such as labels, websites, smartphones and barcodes and the purpose of the initiative is to collect feedback of what does and does not work. 230 companies applied for the call for volunteers and 168 were selected, of which 70 companies are from the food sector. A final report will be delivered to the French Parliament in early 2013, and this will include a self assessment by participating companies.

Florence Scarsi’s presentation

Florence Scarsi
Julian Carroll, Managing Director, EUROPEN

Julian Carroll outlined how the packaging supply chain is like the food value chain in that stakeholders are independent but inextricably linked. The Consumer Goods Forum’s Global Protocol on Packaging Sustainability (GPPS) provides guidance and is based on work already carried out by EUROPEN and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition in the US. Stakeholders who were involved with the development of the GPPS include retailers, manufacturers, packaging producers and associations. The GPPS Framework establishes principles, explains the role of packaging, provides background information, and provides a common language for discussing sustainability. The protocol includes 44 metrics for measuring impact, and not all of them need to be used at the same time.

Julian Carroll’s presentation

Julian Carroll

 

The Plenary Co-Chair reiterated that the Food SCP Round Table can reflect on a number of achievements since its launch two and a half years ago, including the report on Communicating Environmental Performance along the Food Chain, the work achieved to date on the report on continuous environmental improvement, and the development of the ENVIFOOD Protocol. 

The European Food SCP Round Table will continue to pursue its work on developing a harmonised approach to the environmental assessment of food and drink products, the so-called ENVIFOOD Protocol. It will allow industry to assess environmental performance and consumers to make informed choices. In addition, the Round Table will continue its process to further reduce the impacts of food and drink production and consumption.