Restaurants in Spain could be required to offer customers free “doggy bags” as part of a new draft law aimed at reducing food waste in the country.
The Spanish Cabinet has agreed to submit to Parliament a draft “Prevention of Food Loss and Waste” Bill to discourage waste of unconsumed food.
The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, highlighted both the pioneering nature of the proposed law which would help address “a potential food crisis and the need for food production in the world”.
According to the minister, around 20% of food in Spain is wasted annually and of that 40% occurs at retail or household level, which is why raising social awareness of the problem is one of the pillars of the new law.
In 2020, Spanish households threw away 1.4 billion kilos of food (an average of 31 kilos per inhabitant) amounting to 250 Euros per person per year.
The European Union has recently pledged to halve food waste by consumers and industry in the bloc by 2030, in line with UN targets.
According to the United Nations some 900 million tonnes of food is thrown away each year.
The draft law will also regulate donations to food banks so that only produce within its “sell by date” can be accepted.
The measures will mean that all restaurant, cafeteria, and bar customers will have the right to take their leftover food home with them, except in ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffets style restaurants.
Customers may not be charged for any doggy bag packaging which must be recyclable.
Establishments could face fines of up to €2,000 for non-complaince.
The measures will also include catering companies.
Supermarkets could also face fines of up to €60,000 if they fail to reduce the amount of food they throw away.
If products are no longer fit for human consumption, they should be donated for animal feed or in the industrial production of fertilisers and biofuel.
Luis Planas said the bill was aimed at “regulating and raising awareness”.
“In a world where, unfortunately, hunger and malnutrition exist, these issues weigh on everyone’s conscience,” he said.
The proposed bill was approved by the cabinet this week and must now pass its parliamentary stages before it can be enacted into law.
He hoped the bill would be approved by parliament and in force by 1 January 2023.