Italy Passes a Law to Send Unsold Food to Charities Instead of Dumpsters

FAO – the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that around one-third of food worldwide is being thrown away or lost. In total, the amount would be approximately 1.3 billion tons of food waste. These numbers are alarming having in mind the fact that there is still famine in the world.

These numbers of food waste are even higher in Europe making 40% of food waste. For instance, Italy had been throwing away 5.1 million tons of food every year. Yearly, food waste costs Italy $13.4 billion and could represent as much as 1% of the country’s gross national product (GDP).

However, these numbers for Italy will be soon history as the Italian Government passed a food waste law in August 2016. The bill was vastly supported in Italy’s Senate, with 181 Senators voting for it. This law has the goal to reduce food waste by encouraging Italian businesses to give away the food to charities. The businesses that perform this will have also relaxing donation regulations.

Italy is not the only country in the world that has to deal with this issue there are many more.

A Food Waste Solution – Donating Food to Charities

The bill has relaxed previous requirements and procedures for donating food and that will stimulate restaurants and grocery stores to give food to charities rather than throwing it away. In the past, the food Italian businesses had to be very careful not to violate the health and safety laws by donating food just after its sell-by date. They were penalized for this, but this has been changed and now they can donate food that can be still edible. Before this law came to force the procedures for giving away food were complicated impeding the possible donation. Now, food businesses need to fill out a form each month and thus record the food they donate. Farmers can also give the unsold produce to charities at no cost.

Rewards Instead of Punishments

Italy incited businesses to donate the food by rewarding them in terms of lower waste taxes. This means the more food the business give away, the less tax they need to pay.

France has also issued a bill that would help the country to lower the food waste, but their law differs with the Italian one. Instead of rewards the French Government imposes penalties. French supermarkets are obliged to sign contracts with charities to give unsold food away, and if they do not do that they will have to pay a fine. Hence, the Italian food waste law was highly supported as it rewards the businesses that do the right thing and do not punish them if they choose otherwise.

Family Bags or Doggy Bags

The Italians do not have a habit to take home the uneaten food as it is considered improper. However, the restaurants found the perfect solution renaming the doggy bags into family bags and thus trying to encourage the use of “doggy bags”. This rebranding of the doggy bags is more attractive and that can incite people to take the uneaten food from the restaurant more often.

Chefs Help in the Fight against Food Waste

Massimo Bottura is a renowned Italian chef that owns Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Modena, Italy. This worldwide known chef takes a great part in the control of food waste. For that purpose he has founded non-profit organization Food for Soul, a series of community kitchens in London, Paris, Milan, and Rio de Janeiro.

He got the idea when he started an incentive with the rest of the chefs to save millions of pounds of Parmigiano Reggiano due to threat of an earthquake. This pushed him to look deeply into how much food is being thrown away every day.

The community kitchens of his non-profit organization are named Refettorios, and are based on cooking meals from food that would have been discarded. These kitchens have double positive impact they reduce food waste and are socially beneficial for the people who are food insecure. In these kitchens are also highly welcomed other community members.

Bottura sates:

Serving a proper meal in a beautiful setting can rebuild people’s dignity. Spending time with other people over a relaxed dinner can restore fragile souls.”

Italy has taken its part in lowering food waste via the Governmental bill and non-profit organizations like Bottura’s. We can only hope that other countries will follow this example and by reducing food waste they will feed many people in need.