On March 4th the Plenary of the Parliament of Catalunya passed the first Law on the prevention of food losses and food waste with all votes in favour. Its application can make it a benchmark law in Europe.
According to 2010 data, food waste in homes, retail stores and restaurants in Catalunya was of 262,471 tons per year. This means that each Catalan wastes 35 kilos a year, equivalent to 7% of all the food purchased.
The economic impact of these losses is € 841M per year and € 112 per person per year. Regarding the environmental impact, this waste represents an ecological footprint equivalent to the use of 234,022 hectares of crops, a figure corresponding to the emission of 520,723 tons of greenhouse gases, which would be those produced by 20,300 cars during their useful life.
This is a pioneer regulation in Europe because it prioritizes the prevention of food losses and waste in origin before the redistribution of surpluses, and it does so throughout the entire food chain, from primary production to the final consumer.
Pending the publication of the Law in the Official Gazette, some of the measures that will be carried out have been reported:
For food chain companies, social initiative entities and other non-profit organizations dedicated to food distribution:
• They will be required to have a Plan for the prevention of food losses and waste.
• They must measure and report annually on the levels of food loss and waste generation and adopt the pertinent measures to apply the hierarchy of priorities established by law regarding the destination of surpluses: human food first, if this is not possible, animal feed and if it is not possible, composting or other technical uses.
For the restaurant and hospitality sector:
• Make it easier for consumers to take away food that they have not consumed -at no additional cost, and clearly and visibly inform them of this possibility within the establishment, preferably on the menu.
• Use containers for the transfer of unconsumed food, that are suitable for food use, reusable, compostable or easily recyclable, and accept consumers’ own containers.
For the public sector:
• The law imposes on the public administration the obligation to incorporate clauses in public contracts to prevent food losses and waste.
One of the things the law does not contemplate is that food is allowed to be sold after its preferred consumption date and with guarantees, as is the case in European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Denmark, France, Norway or the United Kingdom. Extending the life of food while maintaining food security allows changing the current linear economy model to a circular one.
At this point we ignore what the control and follow-up of the sanctioning measures that have been established will be.