A new draft guideline aimed at reducing food waste in the restaurant industry has been released by the Chinese government. The draft proposes eight categories of measures, including the clear indication of prices and weight, reducing waste at banquets, perfecting the evaluation system for dining establishments, and improving industry self-regulation.
Restaurants are required to take steps to reduce food waste at banquets, including clearly marking the price of each dish in banquet packages and discount information if applicable. Catering companies hosting banquets must include policies aimed at reducing food waste in their contracts.
Restaurants are also required to eliminate minimum spending requirements and indicate the number of diners that each package is designed for. They are also urged to provide free containers for taking leftovers away. The draft calls for increased monitoring of large-scale banquets, particularly those offered by hotels and those that charge more than 1,500 yuan ($220) for each table, excluding drinks.
Lu Shijun, a researcher at the Institute of Food and Nutrition Development of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said that the price and weight being clearly marked not only ensures transparency for consumers but also helps them to order appropriate portions and reduce waste. Banquet packages have been a “high-risk area” for food waste, as some consumers who value flamboyance turn a blind eye to food waste regulations and advice from restaurant staff when ordering. They also hesitate to pack up leftovers for fear of being seen as stingy.
Thanks to a series of regulatory actions and nationwide campaigns launched in recent years to combat food waste, both restaurants and consumers have showed a greater awareness of the need to save food. A resident of the Central China city of Wuhan noted that the waiter kept reminding them to order fewer dishes according to the number of people to avoid wasting food.
Regulating high-priced banquet packages is seen as a good thing for consumers, as it can help alleviate their financial burden. However, some suggest that the guideline be refined according to the living cost and spending power of different regions.
According to People’s Daily, the amount of food wasted in China every year is about 35 million metric tons, close to 6 percent of the country’s total grain output. The food waste generated in urban restaurants alone was 17-18 million tons, equivalent to the amount of food consumed by 30-50 million people in a year.