By MONICA SABELLA, Web Editor
Last week, news reached the public of a new law under consideration in Italy which will move to prevent food waste in grocery centers around the country.
The bill was well-received and substantially supported by the Italian Parliament and will likely be passed sometime next week according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
According to Huffington Post, the law will allow grocery stores to receive a tax reduction on trash collection costs in exchange for distributing unsold produce to the needy in the community. The law would require them to declare their contribution only once a month, five days before donating.
Italy will be the second country to initialize such a law, preceded only by France, who assumes a more dominant position, fining vendors for not donating excess food. A Scandinavian store hit the news earlier this month which sells only expired food products.
With these growing efforts to reduce food wastage appearing in the news, you can’t help but wonder where the United States stands in all this.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. wasted about 30-40 percent of its food supply in 2010. This number is a combination of food consumption on both sides of the spectrum, the retail and consumer.
In an article written by Fox News, this amounts to approximately 1.5 trillion pounds of food, 1.5 billion pounds more than when measured in 2010 and comes to about $165 billion dollars annually. To put it into perspective, last June, USA Today calculated that to be $640 worth of food per household wasted per year.
So, where is all this food going? The majority of the waste occurs on the retail side of production, which is what makes the proposal in Italy so brilliant. Here in the U.S., however, when food gets too close to its expiration date or is somewhat aesthetically flawed, it gets tossed into the dumpster and sent to a landfill — mountains of food left to rot.
Although food is biodegradable, there are drawbacks to this procedure. The decomposing food turns into methane gas, a greenhouse gas and a major contributor of global warming, which affects agriculture in its own turn.
These statistics are overwhelming in themselves without even incorporating the ever present level of poverty and hunger thriving within our nation. Over 48.1 million Americans exist in poverty-stricken homes where the next meal is almost as unpredictable as the day’s lottery ticket number.
The waste is unnecessary and the need for change is evident, and already members of the European states are finding ways to alleviate the stress on their public. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made efforts in the past to reduce waste, encouraging food manufacturers, restaurants, stores and others in the food industry to improve production development, donate to hunger relief organizations and recycle food waste. But these weren’t enforced in any way and not promoted through incentives.
Just think how much more successful incorporating a law like that in Italy or expired food stores like in Denmark would be in a larger nation like the United States. There is so much waste in the United States and so many in need. All we need is a more organized strategy and everyone would have a little more to go around.