A new food waste law was approved by the Council of Ministers dated 7/06/2022. The draft Food Waste Law will entail the right to take leftovers home.
The regulation, which will be sent to Congress to begin its parliamentary processing, aims to put a stop to the millions of kilos of food and drink that households throw away every year.
New Food Waste Law
Let’s take a look at the main keys to this food waste law, bearing in mind that the regulation is aimed at all elements of the chain. That is, primary producers, industry, distribution and families. The latter is the area that concentrates 40% of the waste generated during the whole process.
All companies in the chain should have a waste prevention plan based on a self-diagnosis of their procedures. Once they have identified where losses occur, they will have to take measures to minimize them and decide how to use them.
These plans will have to be configured according to an order or hierarchy, with human consumption through donation or redistribution of food as the top priority.
First, human consumption through donation. The agents in the chain must sign agreements with companies, social initiative entities, NGOs or food banks, specifying the conditions under which the products are collected, transferred and stored between the parties. In turn, the social entities must guarantee the traceability of these products with a record of entry and exit, as well as undertake not to market them.
Secondly, food processing. The option will be to transform food that has not been disposed of but is still in an optimum condition for consumption. An example would be the production of jams or juices.
Thirdly, animal feed. If the food is no longer suitable for human consumption, it will be used in the manufacture of animal feed or animal food.
Finally, in other areas, and in this order, it is envisaged that the waste will ultimately be used to make by-products in other industries or to obtain fertilizers.
The right to take leftovers. This type of establishments will have to offer free of charge to their customers the right to take away the food that they have not consumed. For this purpose, they must have containers suitable for consumption that are reusable or can be easily recycled.
There is an exception in the food waste bill. This provision does not apply to free buffets.
In an attempt to ensure that before the end of “their useful life” food can be used, the bill includes a series of good practices for this type of establishment. Three examples:
- Having a sales line for “ugly, imperfect or unaesthetic” products.
- Promote the consumption of seasonal, proximity or organic products.
- Encourage the sale of products with a short expiration date or a near expiration date.
As usual, this law on food waste in parliamentary procedure, includes a penalty system with fines of up to 500,000 euros for non-compliance.
The food waste bill includes penalties for non-compliance with the provisions of the text. Such as not donating the food fit for human consumption that is available or that the receiving companies establish some kind of discrimination in the distribution.
There are three levels of infringements:
- Minor infraction, up to €2,000 fine. It is considered as such not to apply the hierarchy in the use of food. Or that retail distribution companies or restaurants do not donate unsold products that are fit for human consumption. Also, NGOs or social entities that do not deliver surpluses to disadvantaged people or that set discriminatory reasons when distributing food (reasons of age, sex, health, nationality…).
- Serious infringement, from € 2,001 to € 60,000 fine. It is considered a serious infringement if the companies in the chain do not have a prevention plan.
- Very serious infringement, from €60,001 to a fine of €500,000. If an entity commits two serious offenses within a period of two years, the second or subsequent offense will be considered very serious. The fine can be up to half a million euros.
Next steps of the food waste law
To highlight two important points.
Evaluation every year by the Ministry
The food waste bill also provides that the Executive will have to draft a Strategic Plan, reviewable every four years, on food waste. In it, it will define a general strategy and the guidelines that the autonomous communities will have to follow.
In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture will have to draw up a national plan on the same subject, for which it will have to report annually. Each year it will have to issue a report on the results of the implementation of this plan.
Entry into force
Although they depend on how long the parliamentary process takes, the Government’s intention is for it to come into force on January 1, 2023.