Italy is set to pass a law that will radically cut down on the estimated 5.1 million tons of food it wastes each year. This brilliant new bill encourages the donation of all unsold or wasted food to the needy. The idea of reducing food wastage is turning into something of a global movement: earlier this year we saw France introduce a similar initiative banning the disposal of unsold food products, and Denmark recently opened a “food waste grocery store” selling food that would otherwise be discarded. Even the UK’s Tesco supermarkets have announced that they’ll be implementing this charitable initiative. It is a decidedly positive trend that is helping to combat the absurd amount of food that is wasted around the world each year.
The Italian bill has received widespread bipartisan support and is expected to pass through parliament sometime next week, before being presented to the Senate for a final vote. Currently, any bar, restaurant, or supermarket in Italy that wishes to donate food must declare so in advance. The new ruling changes this, while also offering generous tax reductions on waste disposal, depending on how much individual companies donate. Several articles within the bill amend food safety regulations, which would allow food to be donated even slightly past its “best before” date. The reform will change a number of things, from cutting down on waste, to recovering edible food for the needy and modifying consumer perspectives on ideas around food and waste.
“This is all about encouraging donations,” Democratic MP Mario Chiara told La Repubblica. “It should be understood that recovered food isn’t waste but the extension of good food. And this law makes it clear, because it is based on the concept of gift.” The proposed directive differs slightly from the one implemented in France, as it seeks to reward companies who make donations rather than punish those who do not. The end goal is simply to make it easier for businesses to donate food than waste it.
French politician Arash Derambarsh, who is currently pushing for an EU-wide legislation that would force all supermarkets to give away unused food items, has told The Independent: “The problem is simple – we have food going to waste and poor people who are going hungry.”