According to money.pl, Poland is accountable for as much as 10 percent of EU food waste per year, amounting to 9 mln tons. Moreover, two-thirds of that food is within its expiration date.
The issue has been taken on by the European Parliament, which called on EU member states to limit their food waste by 30 percent by 2025 and by 50 percent by 2030.
Statistics show that most food is wasted in Poland at Christmas and Easter. It is noteworthy, money.pl remarks, that young people are the most likely to throw their food in the bins.
It was found that, should Poles decide to limit the amount of discarded food, they would save up to PLN 2,000 (EUR 460).
According to Mateusz Szubert, a lawyer specializing in this area and interviewed by Poland in English, restaurants and shops have not had to pay VAT for the foodstuff they give away since 2013.
The issue is that shop assistants and managers are obliged to note down every item of food that was not sold but donated. These items, in the eyes of the business owner, do not generate any income and the benevolent gesture makes little significance in this case. In the end, employees would rather throw the food away so as not to upset their superiors.
Mr Szubert remarked that, an anti-food waste act has been in review since 2016 by the Polish Senate. According to the act, anyone found guilty of wasting food will have to pay PLN 0.10 per 1 kg of generated food waste. This might encourage shops and restaurants to hand the surplus food to the needy, food banks and charitable organizations.
Meanwhile, in the Polish town of Krynica, a panel discussion will be dedicated to the issue of food waste. Food banks, food agencies and food industry representatives will partake in the debate that forms part of the 28th Economic Forum in Krynica. The event will take place on September 4-6, 2018.
Speakers will debate how to prevent food waste, they will analyze its consequences and the hitherto undertakings of the EU and individual member states aimed at the reduction of food disposal.
Other countries’ dilemmas
Every state has its own type of food waste problem. In Germany food banks seem to be working well, however, with the rising number of migrant clients, some of the charitable food organizations have decided to prioritize locals, in other words, German citizens.
This was the case for Essener Tafel that faced controversy when it turned out that 75 percent of its clients were migrants. This situation has spurred criticism fueled by the contradiction found in the decision and the German wide association’s goal to provide for everyone in need. In 2017, more than 280,000 refugees received food from German pantries.
The food waste problem may be managed by government action. For instance, France has required its foodstuff vendors to earmark their surplus products for charities and has also issued fines on anyone found guilty of throwing food away.
Food industry representatives such as Tesco, apart from researching the scale of food waste, also attempt to reduce the problem of food disposal at every stage of delivery.