The Chinese government plans to strengthen legislation and create a “long-term mechanism” to curb waste in food production, purchase, storage, transportation, processing and especially consumption. This announcement by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee follows up on recent remarks by President Xi Jinping, in which he addressed potential national food security risks. These risks partly stem from the country’s total farmland area being relatively small considering China’s population of around 1.4 billion. In his remarks, President Xi called for greater efforts to reduce food waste through legislative and regulatory measures as well as through publicity and education to encourage thrift in the entire society. Thrift is considered a core traditional value in China and has been taken up as such in the Constitution as well as in recent legislation like the Agricultural Law and the Civil Code.
The issue of food waste has received increasing public attention as recent studies have shed light on its scale. According to the Report on Food Waste in Chinese Cities, which was published in 2018 by the Institute of Geographic Sciences and National Resources Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese customers waste an average of 93 grams of food per meal consumed in restaurants.
The new national campaign against food waste will build upon and strengthen earlier measures like the “Clean Plate Initiative,” which was launched in 2013 and encouraged consumers to not order excessive food and restaurants to offer smaller portions.