Grown and thrown: Exploring approaches to estimate food waste in EU countries

Carla Caldeira, Valeria De Laurentiis, Agneta Ghose, Sara Corrado, Serenella Sala*

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


National studies on food waste quantification in EU countries present highly discrepant results due to the different quantification approaches adopted. The European Commission has published a delegated act establishing a common methodology and minimum quality requirements for the uniform measurement of food waste generated in Member States. Nevertheless, as EU countries are at different levels of development and implementation of national strategies for food waste quantification, there is a need to develop a harmonized modelling system that enables the estimation of food waste generated by Member States to assess the amounts reported by each country. The aim of this paper is to fulfil this need by presenting two modelling approaches to estimate food waste in EU countries. One approach is based on Material Flow Analysis (MFA) and combines statistical information on the production and trade of food products with food waste coefficients. The other approach is based on the estimation of food waste based on waste statistics. Three EU countries are used to illustrate the two approaches and compare the results obtained thereby. Food waste estimates from waste statistics are generally lower than those obtained using MFA, in particular at the early stages of the food chain. The MFA model presented in this article is the first of its kind developed to estimate food waste across Member States in a consistent way and through time. Crucially, this could support the definition of a baseline and binding targets to reduce food waste across the EU, as announced in the EU Farm to Fork Strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105426
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Food waste
  • Waste statistics
  • Material Flow Analysis
  • EU countries


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