Food Waste Fines

May 30, 2012

Food waste is a huge issue across the food chain, but penalizing diners for not finishing meals treads a fine line.

Every year, globally, 1.3 billion tons of (still edible) food is discarded and only 43 percent of all food (intended for consumption) is actually made available for the end consumer, according to the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition. To address the problem, restaurants, some states, and others are beginning to employ policies that involve a fine if food is wasted.

Regulations recently proposed by Massachusetts’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will ban commercial businesses including hotels from discarding food waste; the regulations are expected to be implemented by mid 2014. If implemented, the ban will protect the state's limited disposal capacity, save businesses from having to pay pricey waste disposal fees, and help fuel plants that will generate renewable energy.

According to the UK Daily Mail, Kylin Buffet, a Chinese restaurant in England, is now charging customers approximately $32 if diners leave food on their plates! Stateside, Hayashi Ya, a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan charges diners three percent for not finishing a meal from the all-you-can-eat buffet.

The initiative to eliminate food waste doesn’t stop there. According to Fast Company, MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith and a team of mechanical engineers and nano-technologists at the Varanasi Research Group have designed LiquiGlide, a “super slippery” coating that can be applied to all sorts of food packaging; particularly to the inside of bottles, so that sauces inside easily glide out, leaving virtually no waste. Smith estimates that if every bottle had the coating, they could save about one million tons of food from being trashed every year.

The SAVE FOOD ( initiative, a joint campaign instituted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, is working to fight global food loss as well. SAVE FOOD aims to encourage the dialogue on food losses between industry, research, politics, and society. The initiative will regularly bring together stakeholders involved in the food supply chain from the food industry, retail, packaging, and logistics for conferences and projects and will support them in developing effective measures.

Food waste is a huge issue and necessitates changes in every step of the food chain. Charging diners for leaving food on their plates, well that’s a little tricky, especially at a time when portion sizes are already larger than life.