Soil, water, energy – we are currently feeling the effects of our planet’s resources becoming scarce more than we have in decades. It is precisely these resources, which are becoming more and more precious as a result of war and climate change, that we also need for the production of our food.
And in industrialized countries – where the throwaway mentality is part of everyday life – they end up in the garbage far too often. For years, the federal government has been trying to increase the appreciation of food with consumer tips and well-intentioned initiatives, but that is hardly enough to bring about an about-face.
So rules are overdue. Spain is now taking this step: The left-wing government approved a draft law on Tuesday that would provide for fines of between 2,000 and 60,000 euros for companies in the production and distribution chain that produce avoidable food waste.
Supermarkets are being urged to lower prices as the sell-by date approaches. Food donations to food banks and other aid organizations should also be better organized. In the European Union, similar regulations have only existed in France and Italy.
Millions of tons of food are wasted year after year: In Spain it was a total of 7.7 million tons in 2018 – and thus 165 kilograms per capita. In Germany it was 12.7 million tons in the same period and thus around 154 kilograms per capita.
We cannot and should no longer afford this decadence. While one or the other in this country already seems to be panicking because of the imminent shortage of sunflower oil, millions of people in developing countries are threatened by famine: For the first time in more than a decade, the number of starving people has increased again.
More than 800 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hunger. More than two billion children, women and men are also acutely malnourished. This puts the United Nations goal of ending hunger worldwide by 2030 a long way off. The paradox is that the global economy would actually be able to feed everyone on earth.
Even if a law, as is now being planned in Spain, can only be a building block on the way to reducing food waste and ending hunger – it is the right way. As desirable as it would be to appeal to reason, it turns out that prohibitions are essential.