Spain introduces food waste law

by Lorraine Williamson
food waste

MADRID – Food waste is one of the problems in western countries such as Spain. Every Spaniard throws away an average of 31 kilos of food per year. That is why Spain is now introducing a law requiring the chain to donate food that is not sold or eaten.

Throwing away food still happens regularly in Western countries. Whereas, this is unthinkable in countries where poverty reigns. Furthermore, the fact that last year Spanish households threw away more than 1.3 billion tons of food, confirms this is also a problem in Spain. This equates to an average of 31 kilograms of food per person per year. 

Where is the most food wasted in Spain? 

40% of wastage occurs in the processing of foodstuffs when they are harvested and prepared for sale in stores; 5% occurs during distribution; 40% of food waste takes place at home and 15% in the hospitality industry. 

The new law for the prevention of food loss and food waste should reduce this problem. The Spanish Council of Ministers approved this bill last Monday. This new law contains obligations for all links in the chain; from primary production to food consumption. 

Halve food waste in Spain by 2030 

Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food Minister Luis Planas spoke at the press conference about the need to tackle food waste for “economic, environmental and social reasons”. This law is part of the development goals for the 2030 agenda to halve food waste per capita. 

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Main obligations in new law against food waste 

The new food waste law contains fifteen articles, the most important of which are: 

Food that is no longer sold must be donated, for example to non-profit organisations and food banks. When food is no longer suitable for human consumption, companies should consider whether it can serve as supplementary feed for animals, composting, or biogas. 

Stores are obliged to also sell products that are of good quality but look less attractive. An example of this is a cucumber that is not perfectly straight or other fruit and vegetables that do not meet the ‘normal dimensions’. 

Selling foods that are nearing the expiration date should be encouraged, for example by offering the product at a lower price. The same applies to the sale of local and organic products. 

The law requires government departments to launch information campaigns to encourage responsible food supply and provide guidelines for businesses to improve food management. Finally, sanctions will apply if guidelines related to donating food are violated. Fines will vary between €6,000 and €150,000. 

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