Japan enacts legislation to tackle nation’s food waste

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Food waste in Japan

Tokyo (Xinhua) Japan on Friday enacted legislation aimed at taking action towards reducing the nation’s food waste.

Sources close to the matter said the government intends to take steps towards reducing the amount of still-edible food waste that is discarded across the country, particularly in the commercial sector.

According to official figures, around six million tons of still-edible food is discarded per year across Japan.

Under the legislation, along with a national directive to reduce food waste, local municipalities will be urged to draft and carry out their own plans to help the government achieve its goal.

The legislation, sponsored by a cross-party group of lawmakers, mandates that the government, local municipalities, businesses and consumers will work together under the auspices of a “national movement’’ to promote and deliver results on the reduction of food waste.

In terms of businesses already committed to the scheme, convenience store operators Seven-Eleven Japan Co. and Lawson Inc. said earlier that they will discount some of their products, including rice balls that are close to their expiration dates.

Customers purchasing the rice balls who are enrolled in the stores’ points system will be eligible for shopping credit when such purchases are made, the operators said.

Reducing food waste has been a mounting issue globally, with food banks often run by private charities having long since petitioned governments, including Japan’s, to take more affirmative action.

Japan’s first food bank, currently called Second Harvest, receives (food) donations from manufacturers, retailers, farmers and individuals and distributes them to those in need.

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All of the food is unexpired and safe for consumption, the organisation says on its website.

The food is given a second life by distributing it to welfare agencies, orphanages, women’s shelters, the homeless and others in need of food security.

According to the Japanese government’s data, in fiscal 2016, 6.43 million tons of food was wasted in the country, with half of it comprising food from the commercial sector.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation have said that every year globally around 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted.

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