Have you heard about Italy’s latest legal action to combat food waste? If you haven’t, let me bring you up to speed.

This past summer, Italy passed a new law which will more strictly encourage their supermarkets to donate food waste to charities. They are the second country in Europe, France being the first, to hold their citizens and institutions legally accountable for their food waste. In France, retailers are fined if they throw away unsold food. In Italy, the new bill offers incentives to businesses who donate food to charities, and is launching new programs to reduce food waste in schools, hospitals, and other public institutions. This new law also gives tax breaks for giving away food, and removes the previous health and safety barriers that had businesses feeling weary about donating imperfect, or expired food.

It’s exciting to be hearing about global changes taking place to combat food waste. The changes in the EU signify a global shift in recognizing food waste as a serious issue. So now my question is, what’s Canada doing?

On a global scale, Canada has some catching up to do when it comes to curbing food waste, but I’m still feeling optimistic. As it stands now, the main hurdle that I see is that we have no national food waste policy.

VCMI, an Ontario based firm that specializes in helping companies in the agriculture and food industries maximize profits, is the the only organization that’s been tracking the impacts of food waste in Canada. According to them, Canada’s regionalized governments, unlike many European centralized governments, make it harder for our food waste policies to achieve success.

However, recent leadership on our west coast may prompt the eastern parts of the country to follow suit. Last year, Vancouver implemented a waste ban on organic food scraps, and launched the Love Food, Hate Waste campaign. The ban applies to homes, apartments, restaurants, and all institutions serving food. A similar ban is in place in San Francisco, Seattle, Halifax, and Nanaimo.

The Love Food, Hate Waste campaign oversees that food waste is treated as a resource. Food waste is sent to commercial composters, such as Harvest Power, where an anaerobic digester converts organic waste into green energy.

As a waste conscious business ourselves, we’re excited about Vancouver’s efforts to take food waste seriously. As campaigns like this gain momentum, we hope to see zero-waste policies become an integral part of Canada’s food production system.

What are your thoughts on how Canada should respond to the issue of food waste?

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