About the project

In 2019 the work of the 4 year EU research project REFRESH has come to an end. REFRESH was an EU research project taking action against food waste. 26 partners from 12 European countries and China work towards the project's goal to contribute towards Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. Many of the processes REFRESH has kick-started, for example the work in its national platforms and the online “Community of Experts” though continue after the lifetime of the project.

Creating solutions, using research and public-private collaboration

REFRESH focused on the reduction of avoidable waste and improved valorisation of food resources. Backed by research to better understand the drivers of food waste, the project supported better decision-making by industry and individual consumers. The project took an innovative, systemic approach to curb food waste through a holistic "Framework for Action". REFRESH built on and went beyond existing initiatives to develop, evaluate, and ensure the spread of social, technological, and organisational insights and practices related to food waste. This was underpinned with guidance to legislators and policy makers to help support effective governance to tackle food waste.

The project aimed to:

  • Develop strategic agreements to reduce food waste with governments, business and local stakeholders in four pilot countries (Spain, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands). A call for pilots has been issued for the business community and other stakeholders to participate in testing new approaches to reduce food waste and replicate these approaches into other countries.
  • Formulate EU policy recommendations and support national implementation of food waste policy frameworks.
  • Design and develop technological innovations to improve valorisation of food waste, e.g. from food processing, and ICT-based platforms and tools to support new and existing solutions to reduce food waste.

Download REFRESH materials:

REFRESH project flyer

REFRESH postcard apples

REFRESH postcard veggies

Project structure

The project was split into eight Work Packages focusing on specific topics and actions. Activities in each work package were split between the project’s 26 partners.

Work Packages

Lead organisation


Consumer understanding in relation to waste generation, handling, reuse and by-product valorization

Wageningen University & Research (WUR), The Netherlands


Business engagement: Frameworks for Action

WRAP, United Kingdom


Policy framework for food waste prevention, recycling, and reuse

Deloitte Développement Durable, France


Behavioural economic approaches and scenarios for food waste prevention, reduction and valorization

University of Bologna (UNIBO), Italy


Environmental and life cycle costing dimensions of food waste

RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden


Valorization of waste streams and co-products

Quadram Institute, United Kingdom


Communication, impact oriented dissemination, and exploitation

Ecologic Institute, Germany


Project Management

Wageningen University & Research - (WUR), The Netherlands

Project partners

Led by Wageningen University, the REFRESH consortium brought together 26 partners from 12 European countries and China. Partners included leading universities, research institutes, private businesses, governments, civil society and other stakeholders. The project consortium consisted of an interdisciplinary team with in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge and a proven track record of working together effectively in national and cross-border research projects.

  1. Wageningen Research, (WUR), The Netherlands
  2. Wageningen University (WU), The Netherlands
  3. WRAP, United Kingdom
  4. Deloitte Développement Durable, France
  5. University of Bologna (UNIBO), Italy
  6. RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweden
  7. Quadram Institute, United Kingdom
  8. Ecologic Institute, Germany
  9. All-China Environment Federation (ACEF), China
  10. Anthesis Group, United Kingdom
  11. Bactevo, United Kingdom
  12. Center for Agro-food Economy and Development (CREDA-UPC-IRTA), Spain
  13. Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR), China
  14. Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Germany
  15. EuroFIR AISBL, Belgium
  16. Global Feedback, United Kingdom
  17. GS1 AISBL (GS1), Belgium
  18. Hungarian Food Bank Association, Hungary
  19. IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL), Sweden
  20. Jožef Stefan Institute (JSI), Slovenia
  21. Newcastle University, United Kingdom
  22. Provalor, the Netherlands
  23. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Austria
  24. University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
  25. Vacuvita, The Netherlands
  26. Sensus, The Netherlands



A third of food is wasted, making food waste the third-biggest carbon emitter

Across the globe, nearly 30% of food is wasted throughout the agrifood supply chain. Around 100 million tonnes of food are wasted annually in the EU (estimate for 2012). Modelling suggests if nothing is done, food waste could rise to over 120 million tonnes by 2020. The food resources being lost and wasted in Europe would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world two times over (European Commission 2015). Together with moving to more sustainable diets, reducing food waste both in and out of the home is the most significant demand-side measure for reducing the carbon impact of the food system.