Appeal to retailers on the greening of the European economy by the food wastage reducing, but not only!

Appeal to retailers on the greening of the European economy by the food wastage reducing, but not only!

The 2012 Retail Forum was held on 9 October 2012 in Brussels. Organised by the European Commission and the European Retail Forum for sustainability, this high-level conference brought together representatives from business, civil society and European institutions, such as CRIOC (consumer organisations’ research and information centre), a GreenCook partner.

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What was the aim of this third Retail Forum? To demonstrate how retailers can be the spearhead in greening the European economy by reducing their carbon footprint, by offering more sustainable products and by helping consumers to reduce the amounts of food they waste!

Towards a sustainable and resource efficient European society and economy

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The speakers emphasised the significant contribution that retailers make to the European economy. Despite the current economic crisis, they have a duty to remain responsible players and actively fulfil their role in combating social problems, especially waste (of food and other commodities). Natural resources are dwindling and retailers are unanimous on the necessity of preserving them.

Retailers are invited to take action on various levels.

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(Download the PDF to find out more about the agreement reached by retailers with the aim of reducing their carbon footprint and reducing waste.)

- Their internal organisation

Retailers must commit to putting in place (and many have already done so) ambitious waste reduction and prevention programmes. These programmes concentrate on internal activities and the segments of the supply chain on which retailers can have a direct effect: logistics, product conception, packaging, recycling, etc.

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An essential aspect to develop is the reclamation of foodstuffs. Retailers must learn to see waste as a precious resource and take measures aimed, as far as is possible, at re-using unsold or unsellable foodstuffs in order to reduce their dependence on pure raw materials.

- With their suppliers

Retailers are encouraged to place their expertise at the service of their suppliers to help them improve their production processes with the aim of reducing the overall carbon footprint of their activities and the products they supply.

- With consumers

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Retailers have a mission to persuade, encourage and accompany consumers in their efforts to reduce their food waste. Thanks to their extensive knowledge of consumers, their proximity to them and their broad experience in communication and information with respect to them, the retail sector occupies a strategic position from which to act. How? By raising consumers’ awareness and explaining how to use and store food more efficiently. Moreover, retailers are in an excellent position to provide consumers with information about the meaning of the different types of expiration dates, and practical tips to reduce food waste, such as using shopping lists.

Within the framework of the Voluntary Agreement presented at the 2012 Retail Forum, retailers are also invited to carry out at least two awareness raising campaigns aimed at reducing irresponsible choices and poor management of foodstuffs between now and June 2014.

The GreenCook project in the spotlight

At this 2012 Retail Forum, Rob Buurman spoke in the name of CRIOC in the context of its partnership with GreenCook. He said that wasting foodstuffs, and also precious resources such as oil, soil and water, was an overriding issue. While in Africa there are people struggling to feed their families, in Europe we are throwing food away!

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Rob Buurman underlined the importance of raising the awareness of consumers, who generally underestimate the impact of their own behaviour and the scale of the problem. He went on to encourage retailers to provide information and advice that would enable consumers to manage their foodstuffs better, to gain a better understanding of the various dates on packaging; “Use before…” or “Best before…” or to plan their meals better.

Naturally, he called on retailers to improve their own internal management and to reduce waste at the agriculture and manufacturing stages. According to him, retailers should see the Voluntary Agreement presented at the Retail forum as a first good step towards more sustainable practices. He also hopes that other retailers will quickly follow suit.




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