A bill aiming to eliminate 1 million tons of waste from Italy's annual estimated 5-million ton output has been passed into law.
The bill, which was backed by 181 senators (with 2 against and 16 abstaining) has been widely praised, with Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina even declaring it as “one of the most beautiful and practical legacies” of the Expo Milano 2015 international exhibition, according to the BBC.
The exhibition focused on tackling hunger and food waste worldwide -- a pertinent topic for Italy, considering that the cost of food wasted amounts to more than $13.4 billion per year for Italian businesses and households, according to ministers.
Of course, Italy is only one country; the problem is worldwide, and especially bad in Europe.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations suggests that around one third of our world’s food may be wasted worldwide -- however, that figure rises to a staggering 40% in Europe.
“The food currently wasted in Europe could feed 200 million people,” the FAO states.
The new bill includes drafts that seek to help make donating food not only easier (there were some who worried about violating health and safety laws by donating food that was technically past its “sell-by” date, but still perfectly healthy and nutritious), but also encourages farmers to give away their unsold produce to charities without worrying about losing money.
Additionally, the BBC reports that the Agricultural Ministry will spend more than $1.1 million researching how to revolutionize packaging foods, in order to prevent spoilage during transit, and ultimately extend shelf life. An informational campaign for the public aiming to reduce food wastage will also be released.
Lastly, “family bags” (popularly known as those “doggy bags” us Americans take home if we’re unable to finish our entire meal at a restaurant) will be introduced to Italian culture. While it is expected in many parts of the world to be able to save your leftovers after a meal, the practice has so far been uncommon in Italy -- until now. A $1.1 million campaign will back a new “family bag” scheme.
Congratulations and good luck, Italy!