A bill backed by 181 Senators aims to cut one million tonnes of food waste from the estimated five million that is wasted in Italy each year.
Agricultural Minister, Maurizio Martina, has heralded the bill as “one of the most beautiful and practical legacies” of Expo Milano 2015.
It is thought that food wastes costs households and businesses more than €12 billion every year.
The country’s lawmakers also enacted a law to provide tax incentives to help companies cut down on food waste and disregard regulatory hurdles that hamper the ability to provide food to charities and individuals in need.
Under a package of measures, businesses will now be allowed to donate food that is past its sell-by date and will also enable farmers to send produce directly to charities at no extra cost.
Additionally, €1 million of funding has been allocated to a new research project that will explore new forms of packaging that will help the shelf life of foods while in transit.
Much like France, the use of family bags (“doggy bags”) are also to be encouraged at restaurants and cafes around the country.
Nicola De Ieso, spokesperson for the farmers’ association Coldiretti in Campania said that:
Our farmers are already doing this at the markets with the leftover produce, but with this new law, instead of just doing it in a friendly, informal way, it can be donated directly to soup kitchens or other charities.
“It simplifies things for us. We can be even more efficient.”
Food waste is one of the most pressing environmental issues in Europe with one third of all food going to waste — rising to 40 per cent in some parts of Europe the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation says (FAO).
Last month an Italian high court ruled that stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime after a judge overturned a theft conviction after a man stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 from a supermarket.
The judge said that the man had stolen the food “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment” and that the “right to survival prevails over property”.