Italy adopts new law to reduce food waste

The Italian Senate aims to cut up to one million tonnes of wasted food a year by offering incentives to businesses who donate food to charities and starting new programmes to reduce food waste in schools, hospitals and other public canteens.

The law earmarked €10 million to launch the initiative, including €1 million annually to fund innovative food waste reduction projects, as well as €2 million to buy food for the poor. It also gives tax breaks for giving away food and removes a number of bureaucratic hurdles that made businesses wary about violating health and safety laws by donating food marginally past its sell-by date.

“Our farmers are already doing this at the markets with the leftover produce, but with this new law, instead of just doing it in a friendly, informal way, it can be donated directly to soup kitchens or other charities,” said Nicola De Ieso, spokesman for the farmers’ association Coldiretti in Campania.

For the ordinary consumer, it will make it easier to request “family bags” (sometimes known as the “doggy bag” ) to take home unfinished food ordered at restaurants, a practice that was previously rare in Italy.

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