A creative UK organization (The Real Junk Food Project) is piloting a school breakfast program run entirely off of diverted food waste!
“Through our work with Richmond Hill Primary School we have seen how important an initiative like Fuel for School is, not just to stop hunger and kickstart learning, but also as an amazingly powerful tool to educate the next generation about food waste and the environment, in the hope that they can help stop such criminal amounts of waste and hunger in the future.
-Kerry Murphy, The Real Junk Food Project’s Education Co-ordinator
In July, we wrote about French Councillor Arash Derambarsh’s efforts to lead the way in food waste reduction for the EU. Last week his efforts paid off, at least for the country of France. French grocery stores that are 400 square meters or larger are now required by law to donate all of their excess food to either food banks or charities, or run the risk of being considerably fined. Furthermore, supermarkets are now banned from tampering with food they put in bins: previously either bleached, locked up, or otherwise rendered inedible. Finally, the law has relaxed restrictions on donations that can come directly from factories, eliminating much of the red tape in the process.
Councillor Derambarsh hopes French President Hollande is willing to take the rest of the EU to task on the issue of food waste, using France as an example.
You can read more about this story here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets
The National Zero Waste Council is proposing a tax credit to corporations when they donate food to charities. This tax credit is meant to encourage food donation.
In her article, “Donating ‘edible waste’ to food banks in exchange for tax credit? Now that’s a rubbish idea”, Valarie Tarasuk discusses some of the implications of this tax credit on food security. She emphasizes that this credit system does nothing to challenge the systemic issues contributing to food insecurity and food bank use in the first place. She concludes that things like affordable housing and paying a living wage will do much more for food insecure households than essentially giving corporations a pat on the back.
Let’s add to this discussion through a food waste lens. Hopefully the simple discussion below helps to challenge the way you think about the issue.
The argument for the tax credit is: donating isn’t free. Companies still have to get their product to the organization and that has labour and transportation costs associated with it. Give a tax credit and you will incentivize companies to divert food directly to organizations in need. Sounds fair enough right? Well, hold up a second critics are saying.
Here is the thing: waste removal isn’t free either. And companies know this. Corporations already have to buy into the waste system to dispose of their surplus product. They may send it through a reclamation company, or they may offload it into the dumpster at the end of the night. Either way, there is a price to pay.
So why is it ok to pay corporations for something they are already considering in their cost of operations?
And before you say it, no, this isn’t a case where we just need to pick the lesser of two evils (although that is an understandable response to a complicated issue). This tax credit is not an innovative waste management idea. Moving forward with a tax credit like this incentivizes the status quo, and we certainly don’t need more of that.
If you think about it more, why do we not instead expect that companies pay organizations to take their surplus off their hands in the same way they do waste management and reclamation companies? Instead of a tax credit, invest in supporting real innovative linkages between organizations and companies.
Thanks to The Bad Apples for their thoughts and insights leading in to this post.