Spain’s government on Tuesday adopted a draft bill aimed at reducing food waste by introducing fines for restaurants and supermarkets who bin leftovers, similar to existing legislation in France and Italy.
“This is a pioneering legal instrument to prevent wastefulness” in the food chain, from producers to consumers, which leads to financial losses and impacts the environment, Food Minister Luis Planas said after a cabinet meeting.
“In a world where unfortunately hunger and malnutrition still exist, these are things which weigh on everyone’s conscience,” he said.
The bill, which will need to be debated in parliament, seeks to reduce the 1.3 million tonnes of food and drink thrown away in Spain every year, amounting to an equivalent loss of 250 euros ($266) per person, according to government figures.
Under the new legislation, both supermarkets and restaurants will have to find ways of distributing leftover food to NGOs and food banks.
In cases where, for example, fruit has become too overripe to be sold, it must be used for making jams or juices, or in cases where it is no longer fit for human consumption, it must be used for animal food or composted.
To avoid waste, restaurants will also have to provide customers with “doggy bags” — free containers to take home their leftovers, a practice which is uncommon in Spain.
The bill lays out fines for failing to comply, which range from 2,001 euros to 60,000 euros.
Planas said the aim was not to create an “interventionist law” but one which would “raise awareness” about food waste.
There would be no sanctions for private homes but they would be targeted by educational campaigns.
Other countries such as Italy and France have already adopted laws in recent years targeting food waste.
In line with objectives laid out by the United Nations, the European Union has committed to reducing by half food waste by both companies and consumers by 2030.
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