In Israel, as in other countries around the world, efforts are being made to reduce food waste and encourage food rescue. However, thus far, no government policy has been established to promote the issue.

1

Economic

From an economic perspective, the fact that excess food is discarded rather than rescued represents a market failure.

2

Social

The rescue and provision of surplus food to those in need reduces social gaps and prevents food insecurity in weaker, underprivileged populations.

3

Environmental

Waste reduction reduces pollutant levels, GHG emissions, use of finite land and water resources, and the quantity of waste sent to landfills.

Policy Recommendations for Reducing Food Waste and Encouraging Food Rescue

The 2020 National Food Waste and Rescue Report, similar to preceding reports, demonstrates the significant economic, social, and environmental benefits of food rescue. The increase in food waste and the widening of the food-insecurity gap that occurred during the year of the pandemic reinforce the need to use food rescue as one of the national policy tools.
Economically
This is a clear case of market failure. At market prices, rescuing food is not economically viable. However, when taking into account the true value and nutritional benefits, food rescue becomes highly worthwhile.
Socially
Rescuing food and donating it to those in need would reduce inequality and increase the food security of the country’s residents.
Environmentally
This effort would save many energy, water, land, and chemical resources, and would reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions as well as the amount of waste sent to landfills.

Recommendations for policy measures necessary to reduce food waste and encourage food rescue in Israel

1
Set a National Food Rescue Goal

The goal would be to reduce food waste by 50% by the year ‎‎2030, in accordance with principles laid out by the UN.

Setting a national goal will place the issue on the national agenda, and more ‎importantly will create governmental commitment to act towards the realization of this ‎objective. In addition to setting a goal, it is necessary to establish measurement and ‎monitoring tools to facilitate ongoing review of compliance with the goal.‎‎

2
Develop a National Plan for Food Rescue

The plan should address food waste and rescue at all stages of the value chain and include the necessary operational, budgetary, and regulatory conditions and incentives for gradually achieving the national food waste reduction and rescue goal.

Implementing the plan would require the significant involvement of government ministries and it should be coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office or the Council for Food Security. For example:

The plan should address food waste and rescue at all stages of the value chain and include the necessary operational, budgetary, and regulatory conditions and incentives for gradually achieving the national food waste reduction and rescue goal.

Implementing the plan would require the significant involvement of government ministries and it should be coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office or the Council for Food Security. For example:

The Ministry of Environmental Protection would examine, among other things, policy tools for reducing food waste and promoting food rescue as a means for meeting emission targets in the fields of waste, industry, and agriculture. Tools could include paying for commercial waste, a mechanism for pricing the carbon created by landfilling and burning waste, new regulation regarding expiration dates (in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy), and more.

The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy would review an incentive and reimbursement policy for compensating farmers, growers, and manufacturers who donate food instead of destroying it.

The Ministry of Welfare and Social Security would examine the possibility of financially supporting food waste reduction and food rescue projects and activities. These types of projects would enable the Ministry to support broader sections of underprivileged populations without having to allocate additional budgets.

The Ministry of Justice would look into the development of legal instruments to support food rescue and prevent food from being destroyed and examine the issue of reduction at the source. Legal instruments would include the legislation of laws encouraging/obligating public bodies to donate surpluses, creating shelf-life extension protocols, etc.

The Ministry of Education would develop educational tools and programs beginning from preschool that encourage the prevention of food waste and food rescue and teach pupils about the environment and sustainable practices, with an emphasis on food and food rescue.

The Procurement Administration would examine the possibility of obligating private entities participating in government tenders for providing services to the state, that have rescuable food sources (not only in the food industry), to engage with recognized food rescue NPOs as a prerequisite for entering into contract. Likewise, the possibility should be examined (together with the Government Companies Authority) of obligating state-funded bodies that operate a kitchen feeding over 1,000 people a day (either directly or through a subcontractor) to engage with a recognized food rescue NPO as a condition for receiving a budget from the government (including security service providers, school catering operations, government companies, etc.).

3
Addressing Food Rescue & Security in Preparing the Economy for Crises & Pandemics
As part of the conclusions derived from the Covid-19 crisis, an examination should be conducted to see how a policy that addresses food rescue, food security, school food programs, and agricultural business continuity in times of crisis and emergency can be integrated into the national emergency plan. This should include a consideration of how best to use the abilities, infrastructures, knowledge, and experience of the public, private, and other sectors, which include logistical centers, warehouses, transportation vehicles, geographical reach, distribution points, knowledge of the consumers, capabilities on the ground, and so on, as well as how to synchronize them.
4
Examining How Current Regulation Contributes to Food Waste
Articles of legislation currently exist, which contribute to the destruction and loss of nutritious and edible food. A comprehensive examination of the existing law in Israel is required to be amended in a way which will prevent food waste and encourage food rescue through a system of incentives that will lead to the rescue of surpluses and distribution to those in need.