MANILA – Seeking to address the hunger of around 2.6 million Filipino families, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has filed the Zero Food Waste Bill which prohibits the throwing away of unsold edible food and urges their donation to charities and food banks.
“Inspired by the France, the bill seeks to shoot two birds with one stone. Number 1, to stop impoverished Filipinos from eating ‘garbage food,’ and number 2, to reduce food wastage,” Pangilinan said. “They call it ‘pagpag.’ Pagpag is ‘to dust off’ in Filipino, or ‘to shake off,’ but it has come to mean food taken from garbage, dusted off by the poorest of the poor as a means to survive.”
According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, every Filipino on the average wastes over 3 kilos of rice per year. This wasted rice is equivalent to 296,869 metric tons worth P7.3 billion.
“This is enough to feed 2 million Filipinos,” noted Pangilinan.
Food waste are those left on one’s plate and become spoiled. Food waste also happens post-harvest due to absence of storage and transport facilities.
According to the Social Weather Stations (SWS), 11.7 percent or around 2.6 million families experience involuntary hunger at least once in the last quarter of 2015.
“It is not right for this many families to go hungry when so much good food is thrown away,” Pangilinan said.
Senate Bill 984 will follow the steps taken by several countries with similar laws.
It prohibits all grocery stores, fastfood outlets, restaurants, and all food companies from throwing away of good, quality food. They are required to bank and donate these food to charities that feed the hungry. Otherwise, they face penalties.
Charities are required to properly collect, store, and distribute these food with dignity to recipients.
If the food is already spoiled, these will be turned into compost fertilizer or biomass energy.
According to a report the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global food wastage that ends up in landfills releases 3.3 billion tons of equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) into the atmosphere every year.
France is the first country in the world to effect such a law, followed by Italy. A city in Belgium also requires supermarkets to donate their surpluses to food banks, while Japan has a Food Recycling Law which aims to reduce food waste and promote recycling of food waste into animal feeds and fertilizer.
Public hearings will be held among stakeholders.