Policy tools for Reducing Food Waste Around the World and in Israel
- 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 energy, water, land, and chemical resources, and would reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions as well as the amount of waste sent to landfill.
Recommended Policy Tools to Reduce Food Waste and Reduce Food Waste
The goal should be to reduce food loss and 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 a government commitment to act towards this objective.
In addition to setting a goal, it is necessary to establish measurement & monitoring tools to facilitate ongoing review of compliance with the goal.
The plan should address food loss 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 loss and waste reduction and rescue goal. Implementing the plan would require significant involvement of government ministries and it should be coordinated by the Prime Minister’s Office or the Council for Food Security. For example:
Enact regulations that establish only two types of labels for food products: those based on food safety and those based on food quality. The regulations will state that consuming food with a safety-based date after the date appearing on the label might be dangerous but that it would not be dangerous in the case of food with a quality-based label.
Promote legislation that allows selling and donating food after the date on quality-based labels, as per the British model.
Launch a campaign to educate consumers to prevent confusion regarding expiration dates.
- Promote legislation requiring the donation of surplus food.
- The legislation must mandate a requirement for all manufacturers, suppliers, and marketers of food, including institutional caterers, to donate unsold food that is fit for human consumption, or alternately donate it for animal feed or to a related industry to reduce food waste.
- The legislation will regulate the transfer of surplus food to its destination.
Similar to the practice in some US states, we recommend forbidding manufacturers from sending more than a certain amount of organic waste to landfill each month, and when this limit is reached, they are required to find another solution – that could be composting, anaerobic digestion, or donation, for the remainder. This would require establishing criteria to determine which businesses and organizations are covered by this prohibition and the threshold above which the prohibition will apply.
Alternately, examine payment for commercial waste – A voluntary mechanism currently allows local authorities to charge businesses a special fee for the collection of commercial waste. This mechanism should be made binding on all Israeli municipalities. To this end, criteria must be established for determining the payment charged to all businesses for commercial waste collection. The amount should be set at a level that creates an economic incentive to reduce disposal in general, and food waste from industry, retailers, restaurants, hotels and banquet halls in particular. Any business that is responsible for creating organic waste will be required to bear the cost of its treatment. The payment will create an incentive for the food industry, food distributors, and caterers to donate the food rather than discard it.
Allocate a budget for ongoing efforts and initiatives for reducing food waste and encouraging food rescue.
Allocate funding for food rescue and food security as part of the economic preparation for emergencies, crises, and pandemics.