Italy Passes Law to Fight Food Waste

The new legislation aims to curb food waste in Italy, where 5.5 million tons of food is wasted each year

Wikimedia Commons / Tej3478 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Sadly, Italians are far better at making food than they are at preserving it.

Forty percent of food, enough to feed 200 million people, is wasted in Europe, per the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. In Italy, where food waste costs businesses and households more than $13.4 billion a year, lawmakers have set out to fight the problem.

A new law was enacted to try to reduce the vast quantities of food waste in Italy. Whereas a similar French law aims to cut food waste by punishing wasteful supermarkets, the Italian law aims to incentivize good behavior. Specifically, the law removes regulations for companies trying to donate extra food.

Before, businesses would have violated health and safety laws by donating food past its sell-by date and faced a web of regulations around maintaining sanitation and traceability standards. Now, businesses won’t face such regulations, and will even pay less waste tax with every morsel of food they give away. Farmers, too, will be able to give extra produce for charities without incurring governmental wrath.

However, most salient is the push to promote “doggy bags,” which allow restaurant-goers to take leftover food home. They’re fairly common in other countries, but were heretofore rarely seen in Italy.

Pundits will be watching with interest to see if these measures are successful and replicable — a necessary step, given that a third of all food worldwide is wasted.

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