Should it be illegal to throw away leftover food? | The Tylt

Should it be illegal to throw away leftover food?

The city of Austin, Texas has officially outlawed restaurants from disposing of food waste in landfills. Instead, restaurants must donate or compost leftovers. Food becomes waste in the U.S. at an astronomical rate, and Austin isn't the first city to pass legislation to limit waste as a result. Supporters of these guidelines are grateful their cities take an active role in food distribution. Others claim food waste laws don't address the root cause of food waste itself, rendering the laws useless. What do you think? 

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Should it be illegal to throw away leftover food?
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In early October, a new reality came to Austin, Texas: restaurants will now be required to donate or compost their food waste, rather than sending it to landfills. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 30 to 40 percent of our food supply becomes food waste:

Most food that’s thrown away ends up in landfills, where it can have negative environmental impacts. Wasted food also can hurt a restaurant’s bottom line.

Throwing away uneaten food at the end of the day is not only "wasteful," but it is also bad for the environment.

Austin isn't the first city to take notice. New York and San Francisco are among the few cities across the U.S. with laws limiting food waste in restaurants specifically. San Francisco diverts about 80 percent of its yearly food waste away from landfills–an incredible accomplishment–and aims to reach zero waste by 2020. 

According to NBC, San Francisco passed the nation's first mandatory composting law in just 2009. If other cities follow suit, the country will catch up to the San Francisco's precedent within just a few years, saving billions and limiting negative environmental consequences. 

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Limiting food waste is a noble cause, but there's a ceiling to its effectiveness. Government mandates to donate and compost unconsumed food are difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. France passed a law to limit food waste in 2016. According to HuffPost'sSelina Juul, the law required:

...all larger supermarkets and hypermarkets...to give all of their surplus food to the local charities–if not, they will be fined 75,000 Euro–or even face a jail sentence.

Although the public applauded the ordinance, the praise may have been misplaced. According to Juul, the law does not address food waste's root cause: overproduction of food.

If we take a look from the helicopter perspective, the fight against food waste today counts a large amount of symptom treatment initiatives, from food waste events to food waste supermarkets and food waste restaurants. All these initiatives are good, important and awareness raising. However, they do not address the root cause...Implementing a law against food waste and thus pushing the food waste further down the value chain will never create a long lasting solution.

Plus, laws requiring restaurants to donate and compost food becomes a logistical nightmare, again, making these laws difficult to follow. The Atlantic's Edward Delman reports on one expert's perspective: 

Moreover, hidden costs may mean that a law mandating food donations could do more harm than good, according to Elise Golan, the director for sustainable development at USDA. 'The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult,' she said. 'If you’re having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that’s not good for anybody.'
FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should it be illegal to throw away leftover food?
#BanFoodWaste
A festive crown for the winner
#LawsDontLimitWaste