About one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption – 1.3 billion tons – is wasted. At the same time, while much of the world is still struggling with food insecurity. Even in the developed world, food insecurity is a surprisingly big problem. Italy just passed a new law to tackle that problem by encouraging supermarkets to donate unsold food to charity.
A similar law was passed in France in February. Actually, France became the first country to effectively ban food waste (for big sellers). In developed countries, the average person throws away 100 kilograms (220 lb) of food every year – and that’s not considering the supermarkets. In July 2014, the European Commission has announced new targets to fight food waste, and urged countries to establish the frameworks through which this can be done. France led the way, and now others are stepping in, namely, Italy. The country is also encouraging customers to take home ‘doggy bags’ after eating out – leftover casseroles.
Farmers will also be able to donate unsold produce to charities without incurring extra costs and sanctions for giving away food past its sell-by date have been removed. Many foods are still perfectly edible even after their sell-by date has expired.
The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has said 40 percent of all food is wasted across Europe.
“The food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people,” said the FAO.
This will help needy people, as well as help the country economically. Ministers have said that food waste is costing the country more than €12 billion ($13.3 billion) a year, or about one percent of GDP. With a huge public debt and high unemployment, the level of food waste is simply unacceptable.
It’s a good measure, and I hope the trend started by France and Italy catches on. The situation in North America isn’t that different. Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America, while consumers in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeastern Asia, each throw away only 6-11 kg a year. Reducing food waste is key to a sustainable future.