Chinese authorities upgrade food waste fight

Updated: 2014-03-19 03:04


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BEIJING - China's anti-waste campaign is being brought to the boil as central authorities issued a long and detailed circular calling on officials and the public to fight against widespread food waste.

The eight-point document, released by the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council, is aimed to curb official extravagance at dinner tables and develop frugal diet habits among the public as well as make better use of leftovers and food materials.

With a large population and limited land resources, China has been facing a tight food supply-demand balance for a long period of time, but food waste remains rampant due to ostentatious lifestyles and lack of supervision, according to the circular.

The document outlines measures prohibiting too much money being spent on food among officials.

Officials are told to control the amount they spend on dinners in public affairs, and promote simple, healthy and economical dining.

Government departments, organizations and state-owned enterprises must publicize the amount they spend on dining for public supervision, according to the circular.

"Authorities are not allowed to organize banquets or guzzle under the name of convening meetings and training," it said.

China's anti-waste battle has been gathering steam since late 2012, when the new leadership announced "eight requirements" to improve Party work style and stamp out extravagance and bureaucracy.

The anti-waste campaign has impacted luxury food and gift industries in the past year.

A 2013 document ordered military soldiers to re-heat leftovers and keep away from fancy food.

In the latest circular, canteens and cafeteria of government departments were asked to provide "simple but healthy" food and put up "save the food" slogans in noticeable places.

They should also procure food materials based on the total number of staff and provide smaller portions to avoid waste, according to the circular.

Special supervisors will be arranged to inspect the measures' implementation and criticize staff who waste food. Warnings will be issued to departments which waste food.

According to the circular, the central authorities want to foster a frugal lifestyle among the public, urging the publicity authorities to reinforce the campaign and educational authorities to advocate frugality in schools.

Catering companies and restaurants have been told to make the best of any food material and actively lead consumers to order moderate amounts of food and pack the leftovers.

Restaurants are not allowed to set a minimum-spend requirement, instead, they should award customers who save food, it said.

Kitchen waste can become resources, the circular said. It urged restaurants, government canteens and cafeterias not to arbitrarily dispose of leftovers and kitchen waste, which it said should be sent to the waste-recycling companies or be made into compost.

Efforts will also be made to improve management in various sectors concerning grain production, storage, transportation and processing to reduce grain depletion or wastage.

The document also noted that China is in the process of hammering out a law on food waste.

Strict supervision and inspection over implementation will be in place, said the circular. Supervision authorities will even investigate restaurants and hotels and track down violating officials from invoices indicating large payments.