A new law passed in Italy relating to food waste could help spur other Western nations and corporations to act correctly with regards to the poor and hungry.
Worldwide food waste is a massive problem. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that ‘food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people’. Studies have shown that 40% of all food in Europe is wasted and this accounts for 22% of the World’s food wastage numbers.
The size of this waste is quite stunning. The total edible food wasted weighs in at a staggering 1.3 billion tons per year. And it’s not cost the waste, it’s the cost of producing this food, the cost to the environment. The global carbon footprint has been estimated at 3.3 Gtonnes of CO2 equivalent as a result of food wastage.
However new laws passed in Italy and government initiatives may lead the charge for other nations to reverse this awful trend.
Rather than discarding leftover items, they want businesses that sell food to donate anything unsold to charities. The new law was brought into effect to remove much of the red tape that businesses would have to go through to donate food.
It will ensure that they can still donate food even if it is passed its sell by date, if it is deemed that the food is still usable.
Farmers will also be able to donate unsold produce to charities without incurring extra costs.
By recording the donations of food that they make each money, the restaurants and supermarkets will be liable for tax breaks.
The bill that was voted in by 181 out of 184 State senators, will also promote restaurants who provide ‘doggy bags’ for customers to take leftovers home if they are unable to finish their meal.
Italy currently has a public debt that exceeds 135 per cent of its GDP and its ministers commissioned a study that revealed that food waste is costing its homes and businesses more than €12 billion (£10 billion) a year, which accounts for 1% of its GDP.
And so this new initiative, while making moral sense, also make economic sense as it makes the Italian people more conscientious about how they deal with food.
The Italian government felt that by offering tax breaks for companies they would be more likely to meet the scheme with enthusiasm as opposed to France, which fines supermarkets for throwing away or destroying food rather than donating it to food banks or other charities.
The French law, which came into effect in February, will ensure charities and anti-poverty campaigners will be able to donate millions of meals a year to those in society most in need.
At the time the new law was brought into effect, French politician Arash Derambarsh summed up the situation succinctly;
“The problem is simple — we have food going to waste and poor people who are going hungry”
He is currently looking to bring in a similar ban on discarding food by supermarkets across E.U member states.