Food waste has reached enormous proportions all over the planet, considering the quantities of produced food thrown away on daily basis. Unfortunately, for many people in the world, throwing away food has become a habit, which is confirmed by the fact that even 30% of produced food is lost or thrown away on a global level, while on the other hand, we frequently ignore the fact that around 700 million people have been affected by the severe global hunger crisis.
The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is equally devastating, bearing in mind that almost 500 tons of food waste end up in landfills every day, while at the same time Bosnia and Herzegovina is definitely listed as one of the poorest countries in the world.
In addition, food waste accounts for a tenth of all greenhouse gas emissions. The decomposition of such waste in landfills produces methane, a strong greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change. This is a serious problem considering that methane is a gas that warms the atmosphere up to 80 times faster than carbon dioxide. The consequences of all of the above are multiple, starting from financial losses and deterioration of people’s health to adverse impacts on the environment.
It is significant to distinguish the term “food waste” from the term “food loss“. Namely, food waste refers to food, which is suitable for consumption, but is consciously discarded during the preparation, sale, or consumption phase. As follows, food waste refers to edible food intended for human consumption. Food loss occurs in the production and distribution phase and refers to the inevitable rejection of food either due to pests, severe weather conditions or disease. In addition, food loss is affected by changes in market demand, and we must equally consider the fact that not all parts of food are edible.
This issue should definitely be given an attention because reducing wastage and loss of food is essential in a world where the number of people affected by hunger is growing rapidly, while tons and tons of edible food are wasted and lost every day. In addition, by wasting food, we use up already limited natural resources unnecessarily.
The saddest thing of all is that so much food is wasted despite the dire need for fresh food in vulnerable communities. Numerous non-governmental organizations work to overcome this problem and try to help the sick, elderly, mentally ill and other vulnerable people who cannot afford to buy food and who depend on donations.
Bearing in mind the above, we cannot fail to mention the current Law on Amendments to the Law on Value Added Tax of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which exempts food donors from paying VAT. Formerly, it was relatively “cheaper” for retail chains, restaurants and others involved in that business to throw away food and send it to landfills than to donate it to those in need. Food of considerable value was destroyed on an annual basis, while the number of users of public kitchens is increasing daily. In this regard, Article 5 of the Law on Value Added Tax of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been amended by item c) which reads: “Giving as food as a donation by a taxpayer for the purpose of preventing its destruction, protecting the environment and help the final recipients of donation exclusively to intermediaries in donating food registered for the collection and provision of humanitarian aid” shall not be considered as the trade of goods for consideration.
It is equally significant to mention that after the entry into force of the Law on Amendments to the Law on Value Added Tax of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the first food donations have already started.
The issue of food waste in our legislation is regulated, among other things, by the Law on Environmental Protection, the Law on Waste Management, as well as by-laws such as the Law on Food Hygiene and the Rulebook on the Hygiene of Food of Animal Origin. The rulebook on food hygiene stipulates that food waste must be disposed of in containers that can be closed. These containers for waste disposal are constructed in an appropriate manner, so that they are easy to clean, maintain and, if necessary, disinfect. It is prescribed that the area for waste disposal has to be made and managed in a way that allows it to be kept in a clean state and has adequate protection against the entry of animals and pests. Waste must be destroyed in a hygienic and environmentally satisfactory manner.
Ultimately, in order to reduce the amount of food waste, it is significant to improve the way of managing food and food surpluses. All participants in the food supply chain should reduce the generation of food waste to a minimum, including food surpluses that can ultimately become waste.
Author: Anja Banjac
E-mail: [email protected]