How the new food waste and waste law can transform restaurant management

Find out how Spain's new food waste and waste law can change the way restaurants manage their food and contribute to a more sustainable food system.

Ingrid Cesáreo

April 12, 2023

anti-waste law

Food waste is a global problem that affects every country in the world, and Spain is no exception. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, around 1.3 million kilos of food are wasted in Spain every year, which represents an average of 31kg per person. 

This amount of wasted food is not only unacceptable from an ethical and moral perspective, but also has a negative impact on the environment and the Spanish economy. Related to this, in the past, we have already written about tips for a more sustainable restaurant. more sustainable restaurant.

In view of this situation, the Spanish government has taken an important step to reduce food waste in the country. Last January, a pioneering law against food waste came into force, a pioneering law against food waste came into force and must now go through the parliamentary process.. This law aims to reduce food waste in Spain and promote the circular economy, and is expected to have a positive impact on society, the environment and the country's economy.

In this post, we will explain the main points of the law against food waste, the benefits expected from its implementation, the penalties and the importance of supporting this law to contribute to the reduction of food waste in Spain.

Measures of the law against food waste

The law against food waste passed by the Spanish government is a pioneering law in Europe that seeks to reduce food waste in the country and promote the circular economy. The main points of the law are described below:

Definition of food waste: The law establishes a clear definition of what is considered food waste, which includes all food that is lost or wasted along the entire food chain, from production to consumption. This definition is important because it makes it possible to measure and quantify food waste accurately and to establish effective measures for its reduction.

Companies must enter into agreements with recipient organizations to determine the conditions for the collection, storage and transport of food.

Restaurants will be required to inform customers that they can take leftovers away and offer reusable or recyclable tuppers, or even allow the customer to bring their own container. The buffet restaurants are exempt from this obligation. are exempt from this obligation.

Measures to encourage food donation: The law establishes a series of measures to encourage the donation of food in good condition to charitable organizations, such as the simplification of administrative and tax procedures, the promotion of collaboration between companies and charities, and the establishment of a system of incentives for companies that donate food.

Companies should encourage the sale of products with a near expiration date by offering them at lower prices.

Stores with a floor area of less than 1,300 square meters will not be subject to these measures.

Measures to promote the circular economy: The law also establishes measures to promote the circular economy in the food chain, such as promoting the production and consumption of local and sustainable food, encouraging the reuse and recycling of food waste, and promoting innovation and research in the field of food waste reduction.

Penalties if the law is not enforced

The bill establishes a system of sanctions proportional to the seriousness of the infractions committed under the law. 

Minor penalties will apply in cases such as non-compliance with the food use hierarchy or failure to donate food by companies, stores, supermarkets, bars or non-profit restaurants, and will consist of fines of up to €2,001. Repeated violations will be considered serious and fines of up to €60,000 will apply in the case of discrimination in food distribution on the grounds of nationality, origin or religion, among others. 

In the event of repeated serious infringements, a fine of up to 500,000 euros will be applied.

Tap water and more recycling

The waste law aims to improve waste management. One more action to generate a positive impact on the environment. 

In some countries, it has long been customary in establishments to order water from the tap or, as we would say, "tap water". But this is newer in Spain. This law, among other aspects, implies the obligation to serve tap water free of charge, thus reducing the number of bottles.

With this law, single-use plastics such as straws or cutlery, among others, have also been banned. They will have to be made of more sustainable materials. Expanded polystyrene containers, known as white cork, are also banned along with oxo-degradable plastic.

Other food containers for immediate consumption must be reduced by 50% in 2026 and 70% in 2030 compared to 2022.

With the implementation of the excise tax on non-reusable plastic packaging, it means preventing and reducing the use of plastic considerably. However, the industry assures that prices will increase as a consequence.

Benefits of implementing these measures:

Here are some of the most important benefits expected from the law against food waste in Spain:

Reducing food waste: The most important benefit of this law is the reduction of food waste in Spain. The law establishes concrete and mandatory measures to prevent food waste at all stages of the food chain, which will help reduce the amount of food that is lost or wasted.
In addition, the law encourages the donation of food in good condition to charitable organizations, which will make use of food that would otherwise have been wasted.‍

Economic benefits: Reducing food waste also has significant economic benefits. The law encourages the circular economy and the production and consumption of local, sustainable food, which can generate jobs and foster economic growth.
In addition, donating food in good condition to charities can reduce disposal costs for businesses.

Social benefits: The law also has important social benefits. The donation of food in good condition to charitable organizations will enable these organizations to provide food to people who would not otherwise be able to afford it, which can improve the quality of life of those most in need.

Environmental benefits: Reducing food waste also has environmental benefits. Food waste is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and biodiversity loss.

The law establishes measures to prevent food waste and promote the circular economy, which can help reduce the negative environmental impact of food waste production and disposal.

Restaurants play an important role in the implementation of this law, as they are responsible for a large amount of food waste. The obligation to inform customers about the possibility of taking away leftovers and to offer reusable or recyclable tuppers, as well as allowing customers to bring their own packaging, are measures that can make a big difference in reducing food waste in restaurants. 

In addition, incentives for the sale of products with an early expiration date can encourage more efficient food management and better menu planning, thereby reducing waste. 

In short, the new law against food waste is an opportunity for restaurants to improve their management and contribute to building a more sustainable and fairer food system.

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