In a bill passed on August 2, the Italian government has made it easier for people to donate food, from restaurants to grocery stores (and even pharmaceuticals).
The law aims to reduce food waste around the country and were backed by 181 of the 184 senators.
The bill provides a plan to reduce food waste by one million tons per year, bringing the total down from the 5.1 million tons of annual waste the country has been experiencing.
ThinkProgress explains, “Italian ministers estimate that the amount of food wasted throughout the country is costing Italian businesses and households more than 12 billion euros ($13.3 billion USD) a year, which equals about 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product — no small amount, when one considers that the country currently has a public debt of 135 percent.”
Really, the goal is to simplify the experience for donors. Until now, all restaurants and supermarkets in Italy have had to issue a declaration within five days of making a donation. The new law will allow businesses to issue a statement of consumption at the end of each month instead.
People will be allowed to donate food that is past the expiration date, with the knowledge that expiration dates are used, primarily, to make sure the company is not liable, even when the food is still perfectly fine. Pharmaceuticals can also be donated, though they must not be expired.
Additionally, there is a push to see people take leftovers home from restaurants, where so much potential food waste can be avoided.
“We have to work through the supply chain, from those who produce to those who gather and donate, but every citizen must also do his or her part.
Statistics tell us that 43 percent of waste happens in the consumer’s home,” says Senator Maria Chiara Gadda, the driving force behind the anti-waste laws. An entire campaign has been devised to get people to take their food home from restaurants, including renaming “doggy bags” “family bags.”