‘Number one priority’: New Spanish law aims to tackle food waste

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Spain is fighting food waste. 

In a new law drafted in June, the Spanish government is promoting taking home leftovers, making jams and discounting soon-to-expire stock to reduce how much food is chucked away each year. 

Under the proposals, supermarkets and stores will be asked to lower the price of products that are about to expire and donate that which is not going to be used to neighbourhood associations and food banks. 

Businesses could face fines of up to 60,000 euros, if they fail to reduce the amount of food they throw away.

School, company and hospital canteens will also be obliged to convert foods into jams and purees or, as a last resort, dedicate them to animal feed or compost.

Laura Martos, an activist from Enraíza Derechos, an NGO specialising in food waste, underlines the importance of these measures, while calling for increased prevention. 

“The prevention of waste has to be the number one priority. Not the donation of surpluses, which is what is read with this law.”

“It is great to donate food if there is a surplus, but we believe that prevention should be the number one priority,” she added. 

Bars and restaurants in Spain will be forced to offer “doggy bags” free of charge to their clients, so they can take home uneaten food as part of Spain’s new food waste law.

The legislation, which is expected to take effect from 1 January next year, will ask businesses to draw up plans to reduce food loss and waste.

The government says Spain wastes more than 1 million tonnes of food and drink each year — equivalent to around 31 kilograms per person and a loss of some 250 euros for each resident.

However, for some restaurants strategies aimed at reducing food waste are already an everyday practice.

“If there is a surplus and it’s in good condition, we serve [leftover food] during the evenings or nights as an appetiser for free,” says Joao Nogueiro, a waiter at the Lusi bar, adding that their menu is designed to avoid surplus food.

“Then we always have the possibility of offering doggy bags to our customers when they have too much food left over,” he continues.

 “But we’ve been doing this for a long time.”