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New Italian Law Aims to Tackle Food Waste

The nation throws out an estimated 5 million tons of food every year

Restaurant Leftovers

Italy wants to do its part to fight the massive global problem that is food waste. The BBC reports a newly passed Italian law aims to reduce the amount of food waste the country produces annually by one million metric tons.

According to Italian legislators, an estimated 5 million metric tons of food waste per year costs the country some $13 billion, with the BBC noting that some studies “suggest it could amount to more than 1 percent of [Italy’s] GDP.”

The bill aims to reduce the problem by encouraging businesses to donate or give away food past its sell-by date (businesses were previously sanctioned for doing just that) and offers a benefit if they do so: the more food they give away, the less waste tax they pay. Farmers will also be permitted to give away unsold produce.

The agricultural ministry has also been given $1 million to research “innovative ways to package foods in transit to prevent spoilage and extend shelf life.” The bill also includes a “family bag” provision, which means that restaurant customers will be encouraged to take any leftovers home with them.

Doggy bags are, of course, pretty popular in the U.S., but many Europeans have yet to fully embrace them; France recently passed a law requiring restaurants to give doggy bags to diners who ask for them.

In America, lawmakers have made recent attempts to tackle the food waste problem, too. A set of bills known as the Food Recovery Act, introduced in 2015, offers a set of steps to reduce food waste on the farm, in stores, institutions, and at home.

The U.S. legislation would establish programs to educate consumers about food waste, "improve cooperation between agricultural producers and emergency feeding organizations," and assist schools in using food from farms that would otherwise go to waste. The act would also establish an Office of Food Recovery, dedicated to measuring and reducing food waste.

According to a report by the National Resources Defense Council, "Reducing food losses by just 15 percent would be enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year." An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. each year goes to waste.

Italy Adopts New Law to Slash Food Waste [BBC]

Restaurants in France Are Now Legally Required to Provide Doggy Bags [E]

U.S. Lawmakers Attempt to Tackle Food Waste [E]

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