Procurement criteria to reduce food waste

In a nutshell

This tool presents procurement criteria designed to help motivate catering companies to take action to reduce food waste. The tool provides minimum criteria for technical specification and award criteria, based on the EU’s Green Public Procurement (GPP) criteria, for menu planning, awareness-raising, redistribution of surplus food, and collection of food waste. The implementation supports, amongst others, the EU’s climate protection, circular economy and Farm to Fork policies.

Necessary Steps

When preparing the documents for procuring catering services, the procurer can include the following criteria to encourage food waste reduction. Procurers can choose between using a set of minimum requirements or award criteria, and use them singularly or in combination (the numeric values in the criteria are suggestions and can be changed according to specific rules, needs, and conditions of the procurer):

Technical specification (minimum criteria)

  • 70% of the hot meals should be kept on the menu until the end of the school day. Explanation: this technical specification can help limit the number of food choices on the daily menu and lead to fewer menu options still available at the end of the catering service.
  • At least one side dish (out of two or three) should be kept until the end of the school day. Explanation: this requirement can be used in combination with the previous criterion or separately.
  • Salad ingredients, seeds, nuts, and salad dressing shall be served separately. Explanation: separate serving would allow certain salad ingredients to be used in the meals the next day, so long as the caterer follows the requirements for storage temperature and shelf life.
  • Minor last-minute changes may be made less than three days before the food is served; e.g. 5–10% of the food items on that day's menu. Explanation: flexibility helps reduce food waste and make better use of the food products available on the market. For example, if there are plums left over from the previous day, they could be served the next day instead of the carrots currently on the menu.
  • The caterer must sort bio-waste separately in the school canteen and kitchen, and install separately marked waste bins for food waste in the canteen for students and school staff. Note: this criterion can be applied to the sorting of other types of waste, such as glass, paper/cardboard, packaging, and mixed municipal waste.

Award criteria (for giving proportionally additional scores):

  • This can be applied to tenders in which the catering service provider, together with the school, organises awareness-raising activities related to food waste reduction. The tenderer must give details on such activities. Note: lower scores can be given to information dissemination activities. Higher scores can be given to initiatives which involve the active involvement of pupils, e.g. measuring food waste levels, cooking with children, or food waste reduction competitions with prizes.
  • It can also be applied to tenders in which the caterer enters into an agreement with a Food Bank or other charities to donate the surplus food or offers other options to redistribute surplus food.

Further Information


The information on this page about the use of the tool “Procurement criteria to reduce food waste” is only provided as a general guide and is not intended as a substitute for the user to check the respective public procurement regulations. We compiled the content to the best of our knowledge, but do not assume any liability for completeness and correctness. We do not assume any liability for the user to verify the applicable procurement law provisions in the respective national state.

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