The FUSIONS project has laid the ground for more accurate data on food waste, while simultaneously showing how social innovation contributes to solving this complex societal challenge.

Some 88 million tonnes of food intended for human consumption are lost along the EU supply chain, according to estimates from the FUSIONS project. This works out to 173 kg per person and accounts for the equivalent of 20 % of all food produced in the EU. About 50% of this is household food waste.

Quantifying this waste was one of the main challenges for the project. When the FUSIONS project began in 2012, food waste data was both sometimes missing, and often unreliable. The project addressed this by fitting individual EU countries’ data within a harmonised framework developed within FUSIONS. By introducing specific criteria, the project developed a standard methodological approach for collecting and fitting reliable data. This framework includes a scoping definition from the perspective of resource efficiency, to enable tracing of food waste including inedible parts of food throughout the value chain from farm to fork.

Through seven ‘social innovation’ pilot actions, FUSIONS also showed how replicable and scalable ideas can contribute to reducing the environmental and social impact of food waste. The actions involved an EU gleaning network (picking fruit and vegetables not harvested by farmers), children’s education programmes in Greece, new ways to organise food redistribution from food services in Hungary, making jam and soups from surplus produce, and a Danish IT service connecting local organisations with businesses that have surplus food to offer.

The relevant knowledge gained during the project has been collated in policy guidelines targeting both EU and national policy makers. Some FUSIONS findings – for example those on making food distribution easier and the role of harmonised food waste monitoring for business engagement – have already been taken up by the European Commission in the Circular Economy Package. 

The knowledge gained during the project is immense. “At the start we didn’t know half of what we know now on how to reduce food waste,” says Bos-Brouwers.

Now that the project has come to an end, the FUSIONS partners are assessing how they continue to make good use of the multidisciplinary platform created during the project. REFRESH – is building on the work done in FUSIONS.

You can see more information on FUSIONS and access the project's results on their website here: