Societal and Consciousness Writer: Ben Dolbear Assesses Italy’s Waste-Cutting Initiative.
Photo by Christopher Czermak
A global effort to reduce both hunger and food waste has led the Italian Senate giving its overwhelming backing of a bill which will make donating unsold food to charities easier.
Until now, Italian businesses have found it difficult to pass on unsold food because of laws restricting the distribution of food marginally past its sell-by-date, but the lifting of such laws will lift this regulative burden, a move which is expected to relieve the waste strain on the nation by one million tonnes, or one sixth of its waste output.
Currently, strict rules on food sales means that foodstuff which is not only just out-of-date, but mislabeled, is marked as waste, and must be disposed of. These rules have contributed to shocking levels of waste in the developed world, and made the hunger crisis worse.
It is thought that loosening these rules will relieve the pressures on businesses to contribute towards global waste. Homelessness has been a plight on European nations since the recession caused by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and austerity policies imposed by governments to reduce fiscal deficits have pushed more people into poverty.
It was estimated that in Italy in 2015, for example, there were over 50,000 people living in extreme poverty, 85% of which were men, according to the Istat Survey on Homelessness.
The trend towards greater levels of homelessness has led many countries to introduce strict policies on businesses to prevent hunger in developed nations. France, for example, earlier this year became the first country in the world to mandate grocery shops to donate all unsold food to charity.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation have said that one third of food globally is wasted, a figure which extends to 40% in Europe. This food could, it says, feed 200 million people.
From a financial perspective, politicians have estimated that food waste management costs Italy more than £10 billion annually, and could equate to as much as 1% of total GDP.
The European Union is currently exploring proposals to end food waste in all member its states, following the lead from France and Italy.