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  • Karl S.

Which Countries Have Laws Against Food Waste? (Part 2)

Updated: Jan 18

The second part of our series on global food waste laws and what they mean for F&B businesses.

Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

BY KARL S. - DEC 8, 2023

Last week we looked at innovative food waste laws in France, Italy and South Korea. South Korea in particular leads the way in food waste infrastructure. We also looked at the effect these laws have on restaurants and where some gaps still remain.

But there are many other countries adopting new legislation to tackle food waste. This week we look at Japan, China, Singapore, the U.A.E and specific state laws in the U.S.A.

What do restaurants in these countries need to know about food waste laws? What effect do they have? We will also ask why measurement is key for any restaurant or F&B business that wants to reduce food waste.

Let’s dig in.

I. Japan, China, Singapore, the U.A.E. & State Food Waste Laws in the U.S.A.

Japan, China, Singapore, the U.A.E. and specific states in the U.S. all have food waste laws in place that affect both consumers and F&B businesses.


Japan has been fighting food waste with legislation since 2001, when the government introduced the “Food Waste Recycling Act”.

The “Food Waste Recycling Act” promotes the reducing and recycling of food waste into fertilizer and feed. The act makes businesses that generate a lot of food waste, to take steps to reduce and recycle their waste as well as report their food waste to the government.

In October 2019 the “Food Loss Act” also came into effect. This was part of the Japanese governments’ plan to reduce household food waste, in response to Target 12.3 of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Part of the purpose of the “Food Loss Act” is to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.

The 2019 act means the national government had to establish a basic framework for cutting food waste, with local governments implementing their own plans. This involves educating consumers and businesses. The act also means both local and national governments have to take measures to help NGOs rescue food that is going to be wasted and redistribute it to those in need and disaster victims.

Organizations like Second Harvest have operated in Japan since 2000, creating a food safety net for those in need. In 2022, Second Harvest delivered 2,929,863 meals with a retail value of 1,619,606,330 Yen (around USD $11,005,600)

Effect on Restaurants

As Japan grows less than 40% of its own food, tackling food waste is a national strategic priority for the Japanese government. Restaurants are working to prevent food waste but the main focus, like France in part 1, is on diners taking uneaten food home in doggy bags. Also, like France, the concept of a “doggy bag” has not been widely adopted in Japan. But the government continues to work to establish a culture of using leftovers from dining out at home.


It is estimated that 35 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in China. This is equivalent to approximately 6% of the country’s food production. Almost all of this waste comes at the retail and consumption stage of the supply chain. So a lot of ready-made and fully cooked food is being wasted.

In August 2020 the Chinese government started to act. President Xi Jinping launched the “clean plate” campaign, calling the problem of food waste “shocking and distressing”.

In April 2021 Chinese legislators brought in a new, wide-ranging Food Waste Law. With strict measures for restaurants, and in some cases, diners.

Effect on Restaurants

Excessive leftovers have been targeted in China under the Food Waste Law. This stops diners ordering too much food to impress other guests. Restaurants can charge an extra fee to anyone who leaves a lot of uneaten food. The restaurant can choose their own charging rate for this. But it must be clearly displayed.

Under the law, catering services have to remind their customers of their duty to reduce food waste. If a restaurant is found guilty of misleading information, it can be fined 10,000 Yuan (around USD $1410).

Restaurants that are found to be wasting food on a consistent basis can be fined up to 50,000 Yuan (around USD $7052).

The law also targets some online activities. Binge-eating videos are banned. Mukbang videos, originating in South Korea, would involve people binge eating huge amounts of food. Anyone who distributes content such as this in China would face a 100,000 Yuan (around USD $14,105).

The punitive nature of the Food Waste Law in China means that F&B businesses must take action to prevent food waste.


Singapore launched ambitious plans to tackle food waste in 2019, with legislation coming into law from 2024.

This means businesses have had time to prepare for the new food waste legislation, which will be part of the Resource Sustainability Act.

Singapore’s National Environment Agency is focusing on 3 key areas that will build up to the law becoming active in 2024.

These 3 strategies are:

Strategy 1: Prevent and reduce food wastage at source

Strategy 2: Redistribute unsold/excess food

Strategy 3: Recycle/Treat food waste

Some of these strategies could have a dramatic effect on how F&B businesses in Singapore operate.

Effects on Restaurants

From 2024, owners of commercial or industrial premises that generate a lot of food waste will be required to separate their food waste for treatment. Either on-site or off-site.

This new law is expected to impact around 360 shopping malls, hotels and factories which house food manufacturers and caterers involved in food preparation and processing.

• Shopping malls with a F&B area of more than 3,000m2;

• Hotels with F&B and function areas of more than 3,000m2;

• Large food manufacturing businesses[1];

• Multi-user factories with at least one large food manufacturing business[1]; and

• Multi-user factories with more than 20,000m2 of gross floor area and more than 20 food tenants (e.g. food manufacturers and caterers).

Restaurants and supermarkets will also be encouraged to distribute unsold/excess food to organisations such as Food Bank Singapore or Food from the Heart. Where the food can be distributed to those in need.

F&B businesses in Singapore must get ahead of the legislation right away and consider adopting solutions like the FIT Food Waste Monitoring app.


Although the United Arab Emirates does not have food waste legislation in place yet, things are moving quickly.

In March 2023, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, announced a new booklet. The booklet, called ‘How to Reduce Food Waste Using Three Low-Cost Nudges – A Practical Guide for Canteens and Buffet Restaurants’.

Plans are being discussed, including fines for households that generate a lot of food waste.

With the UAE hosting COP28, these food waste initiatives may gather more momentum.

Effects on Restaurants

At the time of writing, there is little effect on restaurants in the UAE. But this will change over time. Momentum is building to tackle food waste in the UAE. So restaurants and large F&B businesses need to put plans in place now to ensure compliance with legislation in the future.

Specific States in the U.S.A

Although there is no current national legislation around food waste, various states in the U.S have adopted food waste legislation. They include:

Arizona: Arizona offers two tax incentives to help fight food waste. They include an incentive for restaurants that donate food to nonprofits and a tax deduction for farmers to donate crops to nonprofits.

California: California also offers tax incentives to farmers who donate food with an additional tax credit of 50% to cover transportation costs.

Colorado: Colorado also offers tax credits for donated food and requires property owners and managers to have on-site collection of compostable materials, which have to be easy to use.

Connecticut: Connecticut introduced comprehensive legislation that limits organic waste production to 52 tons/year. This covers food wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, and processors. Plus supermarkets, conference centers, and hotels/resorts.

Iowa: Iowa also offers tax credits for food donation but this is not limited to crops or livestock, so F&B businesses can take advantage of the incentive on offer.

Kentucky: Kentucky offers a tax credit of 10% for food donation for any edible agricultural product.

Massachusetts: Massachusetts has an organic waste ban in effect that covers any business that generates more than a ton of food waste every week.

Missouri: Missouri offers tax credits for food donation.

Oregon: Oregon offers tax credits for food donation but also requires that any business that “cooks, assembles, processes, serves, or sells food” to separate food waste and then send it to a facility for processing.

South Carolina: South Carolina offers tax credits specific to donated “deer carcass”.

Vermont: Vermont has had legislation in place since 2012 that requires residents and businesses to reduce organic waste.

Virginia: Virginia offers tax credits to farmers for donated crops.

Effects on Restaurants

Most of the state food waste laws do not include provisions for restaurants. But in Massachusetts F&B businesses need to be very aware of legislation. Also F&B businesses can get tax breaks in some states if they work with local nonprofits to donate food.

II. Measurement is Key

Of all the food waste laws we have looked at in this series, almost all of them lack a crucial factor in food waste reduction; consistent measurement.

Even in countries with innovative laws like South Korea, there is not a clear focus on helping F&B businesses to accurately measure the food they waste. Without a baseline measurement, reducing food waste in a commercial setting is an impossible task.

Contact LightBlue consulting about our FIT Food Tech app. It is easy to use, works on generic devices and we provide training to kitchen professionals who need it.

III. Conclusion

It is crucial that F&B businesses all around the world begin to tackle food waste. These businesses need help, training, advice and technical tools to tackle the problem. LightBlue works with organisations around the world to get into good food waste reduction habits and save money.

Get in touch with us on our website or via email on

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