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Italy Passes Law To Send Unsold Food To Charities Instead Of Dumpsters

An article in the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture says that the “world produces more than 1½ times enough food to feed everyone on the planet. That’s already enough to feed 10 billion people, the world’s 2050 projected population peak.” But yet, in a world with so much extra food, people starve. The article says there are currently 1 billion people with not enough to eat. The reason for this is the prevalence of food waste. However, Italy is taking steps to prevent food waste by channeling unsold food to charities.

Italy’s Unsold Food

Right now, the amount of unsold food waste in Italy is about €12 billion (over $14 million USD). 5.1 million tonnes of food are wasted annually. Maria Chiara Gadda is a member of the Italian Parliament, who has spearheaded this bill. She says that “food products which become surplus food, for several reasons, are likely to be sent to landfill if an efficient donation and recovery system is not encouraged and put in place.” The waste of unsold food is frustrating to her–“We are talking about good and safe food, perfectly edible surplus food.” Her hope is that reducing the red tape will “go one step forward simplifying the donation of food products as bread, fresh and cooked food which has been very complex to manage until now.”

France Vs. Italy: Two Approaches To Food Waste

In February 2016, France was the first country to pass food waste laws. Italy, which passed the bill through its lower parliament in March 2016, is the second European country to pass laws surrounding food waste. France’s approach is to fine supermarkets who throw out unsold food or who purposely spoil food in order to avoid donating. Italy wants to take a different approach. “Punishing those who waste is of little use,” says Gadda. “the action of donating something is a modern way of rethinking the social welfare, corporate social responsibility, and subsidiarity.”

What Unsold Food Incentives Does Italy Provide?

Instead, this law offers benefits to stores who comply. The law offers supermarkets tax breaks on their garbage, with the amount of money off corresponding with the amount donated. Additionally, the law discards the prior requirement for stores to declare what they are donating in advance. As a result, stores can adjust planned donations based on what sells and what doesn’t. Finally, the law allows supermarkets to be more flexible with the best-before date. “We wanted to reiterate that products with the words ‘to be consumed preferably by’ can also be used after the deadline,” says Gadda. There’s a “difference between the ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates, and. . . .food products may be donated even if their “best before” date has passed.”

Food Waste On A Personal Level

Environmental under-secretary, Barbara Degani, wants Italians to change their attitudes about food waste on a personal level. Italians, she says, find it “indecent” to take leftover food home from restaurants. Instead, she says it is an important act. Because of this, Italy is rebranding the ‘doggie bag’ to the ‘family bag,’ in an effort to reduce stigma.

Sources:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241746569_We_Already_Grow_Enough_Food_for_10_Billion_People_and_Still_Can’t_End_Hunger https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2016/03/16/italy-changes-law-make-all-supermarkets-donate-unsold-food-charity https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/03/italy-food-waste-law-donate-food
https://www.bancoalimentare.it/en/node/4246 https://www.repubblica.it/economia/2016/03/13/news/sprechi_alimentari_la_legge_approda_alla_camera-135361983/