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Romanian Minister: Raise Prices to Fight Food Waste

Romania’s agriculture minister said food waste could be treated like carbon emissions

LONDON - AUGUST 1:Rubbish overflows from a fast food restaurant's waste bin August 1, 2002 in central London. The "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign has warned that the rat population has dramatically increased due to the amount of food discarded on British streets. (Photo by John Li/Getty Images)
LONDON - AUGUST 1:Rubbish overflows from a fast food restaurant's waste bin August 1, 2002 in central London. The "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign has warned that the rat population has dramatically increased due to the amount of food discarded on British streets. (Photo by John Li/Getty Images)

For countries who want to do their part to curb waste and help the planet, Romania’s agriculture minister has a meaty idea: Raise food prices.

On Wednesday Achim Irimescu suggested to the Romanian versions of EurActiv, an EU news site, that the same taxes levied on fossil fuels to reduce carbon emissions could just as easily be applied to meat.

“They fill up the fridge and then have to deal with a lot of expired items. I admit it has happened to me,” he said. “If a kilo of meat is priced right, then people will take more care.”

According to official Romanian statistics, the country throws away 2.25 million tons of food annually.

Europe’s agricultural industry is heavily protected — prices are kept down thanks to $40 billion in EU subsidies. But perhaps Irimescu is preparing for a dip in funds as Britain prepares to Brexit and eventually stops paying into to the EU budget pot.

Still, with around 22.5 percent of the country’s population living below the poverty line, a food tax would be a cruel hit to Romanian pocketbooks.

Irimescu also suggested that Bucharest could embrace a solution popular in other Western European countries: Encouraging supermarkets to donate close-to-expiring food to charity, or sell it for cheaper prices. In February, France became the first country in the world to ban grocery stores from throwing away or destroying food.

Photo credit: JOHN LI/Getty Images

Kavitha Surana is an editorial fellow at Foreign Policy, where she produces breaking news and original reports with a particular focus on immigration, counterterrorism, and border security policy. Previously, Kavitha worked at New York magazine’s Bedford + Bowery blog, CNNMoney, The Associated Press in Italy, and Fareed Zakaria GPS and has freelanced from Italy and Germany for publications like Quartz, Al Jazeera America, OZY, and GlobalPost/PRI. In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright trip to Germany, as well as a grant from the Heinrich Böll Foundation to report on migration and integration. She also reported from Rwanda and Senegal. Kavitha studied European history at Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in journalism and European studies from New York University. She has studied in Italy and Peru and speaks Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. @ksurana6

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