On 21 May 2017, the law on diminishing food waste enacted in November 2016 has become applicable (“Law 217/2016”). Law 217/2016 applies to all entities in the food industry and contains progressive measures aimed at preventing food waste. Such measures include:
- Taking responsibility for diminishing food waste by educating industry operators on the importance of planning and preventing food waste;
- Selling food that is near expiry at a lower price;
- Donating food that is near expiration to entities such as associations and foundations;
- Discharging by-products not intended for human consumption, under certain conditions provided by law;
- Composting agro-food products which are unfit for human or animal consumption;
- Transforming agro-food products which are unfit to human or animal consumption into biogas;
- Directing the bi-products from the above actions to the proper entity.
Entities that fail to comply with the provisions of Law 217/2016 will face monetary sanctions ranging from around EUR 250 to EUR 2,500 (depending on the size of the sanctioned entity).
Law 217/2016 creates a general framework for diminishing food waste and requires the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (“MADR”) to enact related methodological norms by 21 May 2017. Although MADR has submitted a draft set of norms for public debate, the enactment deadline was not met. The authority’s public view is that the current version of Law 217/2016 requires amendment, therefore implementation of the law’s provisions is unclear.
Nongovernmental organisations active in the field of preventing food waste overwhelmingly support Law 217/2016. They assert that any amendments should be made after the law’s specific shortcomings can be identified.
The authorities’ stance is that Law 217/2016 will be rather inoperable until the methodological norms are passed to assist its application. Despite this, concerned industry players should consider adopting measures in line with the new legal obligations under the law, with a view to address the related risks in a precautionary manner.