Food: Reporting obligation for supermarkets now fixed

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Supermarkets will, in future, have to report to the Ministry of Environment how much food they throw away or donate. This results from the Waste Management Act (AWG) amendment passed in the National Council on Wednesday. The reporting obligation for traders applies from the fourth quarter from a sales area of 400 square meters or five points of sale. According to Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens), it should be a “clear incentive to donate” and thus minimize food waste.

Once a quarter, significant grocers and supermarket chains must report to the Environment Ministry how much food they have thrown away and how much has been donated. “It cannot be that thousands of tons of food are simply thrown away in times of inflation, when many people no longer know how to make ends meet,” Gewessler stated. He said the new regulation in the Waste Management Act creates transparency and is a clear message against food waste, as companies are encouraged to donate food that is still fit for consumption and avoid waste.

Thanks to the “Food is Precious” initiative, a voluntary agreement between supermarkets and the Ministry; food is already being given to social organizations such as food banks, saving around 20,000 tons of food from turning into waste. Despite this, estimates put the amount of avoidable food waste in the retail sector at 70,834 tons.

The initial proposal for the AWG amendment affects an estimated 900 companies in Austria. The quarterly reports must be made for the first time for the fourth calendar quarter of 2023 by February 10, 2024. The mass of food passed on for human consumption free of charge and that is disposed of as waste are to be reported and then presented to the public in a quarterly report. The rule does not cover microenterprises and food producers that distribute food through direct sales, such as farmers.

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