China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee has started reviewing the first draft of the new anti-food-waste law in China, as reported by Xinhua on December 22. The draft law contains 32 articles, clarifying the definition of food waste, the responsibility of the relevant government agencies, as well as the standards for fines and penalties. Specifically, broadcasters and online video platforms are no longer allowed to produce, publish or spread content that encourages excessive eating or drinking in the country, while restaurants are requested to set up slogans or anti-food-waste signs in conspicuous areas to prevent customers from over-ordering. The draft law also would order local governments to establish food banks to create a food donation channel for social organizations, charities and relief agencies.
According to a report submitted from the NPC Standing Committee, China has been producing over 650m tons of grains for five consecutive years, with a per capita supply of grain exceeding 470 kilograms. However, the country is still shipping in approximately 100m tons of grain every year. However, almost 135m residents in China still face malnourishment, as reported by Future Directions. Citing Wang Hongguang, a researcher at Peking University, China should boost its grain production by around 15%, or an equivalent of 100m tons annually by 2030 to safeguard national food security.
Meanwhile, China is still experiencing severe food waste. Data shows that around 17m to 18m tons of food are thrown away each year in Chinese urban restaurants alone, while an additional 35m tons of food go into waste in the food production, storage and transportation process per year. Based on calculations from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, around 12% of produced food is lost along the entire domestic food supply chain in China, indicating ample room for improvement.
This August, the Chinese government initiated a national Clean Plate Campaign to cut excessive food consumption in restaurants. The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) also announced in early December to launch strict measures for food waste prevention, encouraging catering firms to offer traditional and higher quality Chinese dishes in place of dishes with excessive portions. The anti-food-waste law is another step the Chinese government is taking to raise public awareness over food waste issues. Apart from tackling food waste issues on the consumption side, the NPC is also considering releasing regulations on food security in 2021 to reduce food loss in production, storage and circulation processes. These actions could potentially help with carbon dioxide emission reduction in China, with up to 200m tons of CO2 equivalent expected to be cut per year, according to analysts from CCAFS.