Governments Trying To Tackle the Problem of Food Waste
(IntegrityPress.org) – According to a recent report from The New York Times on the problem of food waste, 31% of the groceries we produce and sell end up going to waste. The waste produced is a major problem in light of the climate change crisis, as methane (emitted by rotting food) is a greenhouse gas. Governments and many private businesses are going to great lengths to address the issue, but it’s proving difficult to solve.
Why Does Food Waste Happen?
Many believe food waste is a byproduct of wealthy and wasteful societies. They also think that consumers and businesses alike are careless about the issue. Still, the reality is more complex.
Legalities are one factor to consider. Government regulations prevent supermarkets from selling perishable items after certain dates (even though the goods are often perfectly edible at this point). Storage limitations also frequently create problems; for example, when there is a power outage and a loss of refrigeration, huge amounts of food can spoil at once in households, restaurants, and stores.
Overproduction is another key consideration. Many governments subsidize farmers to produce certain crops, leading them to supply amounts far in excess of demand. Experts have pointed to inefficiencies in food production systems as another major issue. Similarly, inadequate distribution systems can also lead to food waste.
What Efforts Are Underway To Address the Issue?
Various governments around the world including the United States have introduced initiatives to address the problem of food waste. In South Korea, for example, officials now use a system that recycles 95% of food waste. It has been illegal to throw edible waste into landfills in South Korea since 2005, and since 2013, individuals must weigh their food waste and pay for the amount they throw away. Noncompliance with the rules results in a fine.
Supermarkets in the United Kingdom have removed “best before” dates from many grocery products hoping consumers eat more items before grocers must throw them away. Retailers have also tried to switch from “use by” dates to “best before” dates in other cases.
A number of countries have mandated that restaurants and grocery stores donate food that is out of date but still safe to consume to charity. The state of California has implemented similar regulations.
How do you think governments should approach the problem of food waste? Are there elements of strategies in other countries that we could adopt here?
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