Prevention of Food Waste Act passed at plenary session of Catalan Parliament

The new legislation will help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 on zero hunger, and a target of reducing food waste by 50% has been set for 2030.

The act is pioneering in European terms because, unlike French and Italian legislation, it prioritises prevention at source rather than the redistribution of surpluses, and it does so throughout the entire food chain.

What does the law demand?

The legislation sets out a series of obligations for all actors in the food chain as well as a system of penalties for infringements. The obligations on companies operating in the food chain, as well as social entities and other non-profit organisations involved in the distribution of food, include:

  • To have a Food Loss and Waste Prevention Plan
  • To measure and report annually on levels of food losses and waste
  • To apply a hierarchy of priorities regarding the destination of surpluses:

o   Surpluses should preferentially be destined for human consumption

o   If this is not possible, for the feeding of animals

o   If this is also impossible, for composting and other technical uses

Customers to take unfinished food with them

The legislation also sets out specific obligations for companies operating in the hotel, restaurant, and catering sectors. These include:

  • To facilitate a situation in which consumers take unfinished food with them at no extra cost, and to inform of this option clearly and visibly on the premises, preferably on the menu.
  • To implement reusable, compostable or easily recyclable packaging suitable for foodstuffs, and to permit customers to use their own packaging materials.

Waste in public administrations

The new legislation obliges public authorities and other public sector entities:

  • To include clauses in public contracts and agreements on the management of food-related services to prevent food losses and waste.
  • To collect and analyse data on food losses and waste, and to draft a strategic food loss and waste prevention plan.

The Government, with the cooperation of the Catalan Food Council, is also obliged to draft a Strategic Plan.

Monitoring and data collection

Another important element of the legislation is the obligation to monitor and collect data, as a complementary, not-for-profit activity aimed at preventing food losses in primary production. A guide on this issue is to be published in the near future.

Food waste in Catalonia

Food waste in Catalonia, in homes, retail outlets and the restaurant sector amounted to 262,471 tonnes in 2010, meaning that each citizen wasted 35 kilos, or the equivalent of 7% of food purchased.