Spain’s doggy bag law and similar legislation in other countries to stop food waste

A new bill passed in Spain requires restaurants and bars across the country to offer free doggy bags to customers. Let’s look at other countries that have laws to reduce food waste

Food waste remains a big problem in the West even as 690 million people, or 8.9% of the world’s population, struggle with hunger. In an important step to combat food waste, Spain has passed a new doggy bag law.

What is the “doggy bag law”?

Under new legislation passed by the Spanish government on Tuesday, restaurants and bars across the country will be forced to offer free ‘doggy bags’ to customers to take home food they don’t have Ate. Restaurant owners could be fined 2,000 euros if they do not offer doggy bags.

That’s not all. Companies in the food industry will have to make plans to try to reduce the amount of food wasted or face possible fines.

Shops and supermarkets will be asked to reduce the price of products as their recommended use-by date approaches and also to enter into agreements with neighborhood organizations and food banks for the donation of such products to help the needy. , reports the news agency. The Associated Press.

Once the expiry date has passed, the law recommends that the foodstuffs be used as animal feed or in the industrial production of fertilizers and biofuels.

Spain’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Minister Luis Planas said the bill was aimed at “regulating and raising awareness”.

“In a world where, unfortunately, hunger and malnutrition exist, these issues weigh on everyone’s conscience,” he said after the Council of Ministers meeting.

How much food does Spain waste?

According to the government, Spain wastes 1.36 million tonnes of food and drink every year, which equates to around 31 kilograms per person and a loss of around €250 per capita.

What about waste in the rest of the world?

According to a 2021 study by the United Nations Environment Programme, more than 930 million tonnes of food sold in 2019 was thrown away. This volume would fill enough 40-tonne trucks to circumnavigate the globe seven times.

A fifth of the food available to consumers in stores, restaurants and in our homes is thrown directly into the trash, the report says.

The European Union recently pledged to halve consumer and industry food waste in the bloc by 2030, in line with UN targets.

More than 930 million tonnes of food sold in 2019 was thrown away, according to the UN. AFP

What are other European nations doing?

Like Spain, France, in early 2016, introduced the “doggy bag” law to reduce the huge amount of food waste in the country.

At the time, French catering alone accounted for around one million tonnes of food waste a year, according to government figures.

The law was part of an initiative launched by the French government in 2013, aiming to reduce food waste by 50% by 2025.

Until 2016, bringing leftovers home was unheard of in France. A 2014 survey found that 70% of people had never taken leftovers home.

Months after the French, Italy passed a law in August 2016 that encouraged companies to donate or donate food past its sell-by date (companies were previously sanctioned for this) and offered a benefit if they did: the more food they had. donate, the less waste tax they paid. Farmers were also allowed to donate unsold produce.

Three months ago, Italy’s highest court ruled that stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger was not a crime.

Explanation of the Spanish doggy bag law and similar legislation in other countries to stop food waste

France, Germany and Italy are among the European nations that are committed to reducing food waste. AFP

What about other nations in Europe?

In 2018, the UK announced a program to reduce food waste from food retailers and manufacturers.

The government has worked with non-profit organization Wrap and food charity IGD on a roadmap to reduce food waste, which includes ways for businesses to reduce waste at every stage of their supply chain. ‘supply.

In 2019, food waste in the UK was 10.2 million tonnes per year.

Germany has also pledged to halve the amount of food thrown away in the country by 2030. A big part of the plan is to package food in smaller quantities.

Does the United States have similar laws?

The United States is one of the worst offenders when it comes to food waste. It would reject more than 40 million tons of food every day. Most US states follow the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act which encourages food donations to charities by minimizing liability.

However, Arizona and California are among 12 states that have their own food waste legislation. Arizona offers two relevant tax incentives – a deduction for restaurants that donate food to nonprofits and a tax deduction for farmers or agricultural processors who donate crops.

California liability protection legislation covers food fit for human consumption, regardless of packaging and labeling laws, including whether the food is past its best before date, as long as the person who distributes it to the final recipient considers the food to be healthy. This extension of protection is far greater than in other states and helps solve the problem of mislabeled foods, reports RTS.

It also has tax incentives for farmers who donate food to banks and has a strict organic waste recycling law that aims to reduce organic waste in businesses.

Explanation of the Spanish doggy bag law and similar legislation in other countries to stop food waste

A staff member installs signs encouraging people not to waste food at a restaurant in Handan, northern China’s Hebei province, in August 2020. AFP

And Asia?

The Japanese government enacted the Food Recycling Law in 2001, which aimed to reduce food waste and promote recycling. The Food Recycling Act requires all entities affected by food waste at the stages of food production, distribution and consumption, including consumers, businesses and national and local governments, to strive control the production of waste, promote recycling and reduce the volume of waste.

China passed a strict law in 2021 that bans binge eating videos, competitive eating and excessive leftovers. Restaurants have the right to charge an additional fee to any customer who leaves excessive amounts of food uneaten. Restaurants that consistently waste large amounts of food face a fine of up to 50,000 yuan ($7,735).

With contributions from agencies

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