Simpler VAT rules a crucial step in tackling food waste - The Post

Simpler VAT rules a crucial step in tackling food waste

Food waste is one of the major headaches in developed consumer societies and cutting it can pay major dividends

All this discarded food is perfectly good to eat (photo: Sean Aranda/Food Waste Fiasco)
April 23rd, 2019 1:52 pm| by Stephen Gadd

Last year, a report from Boston Consulting Group revealed that on a yearly basis around 7.7 trillion kroner’s worth of food is thrown out worldwide.

Shopkeepers and supermarket chains in Denmark would like to do more to help. However, VAT is proving to be a major stumbling block.

But now a working group is being set up by Venstre to investigate how goods can be put out for free without VAT having to be paid.

“We often hear from shopkeepers who think it is unreasonable that they have to pay the full amount of VAT if they give surplus food away,” the party’s food spokesperson, Erling Bonnesen, told DR Nyheder.

READ ALSO: Danish government to set up food waste think-tank

The owner of a Rema 1000 shop in Copenhagen recently stated he would be more than willing to allow people to come and take goods at the end of their sales cycle, or not date critical, but then he would have to pay VAT.

If he had just thrown the food out, he could have avoided the tax.

Simpler but still safe
The working group has also been tasked with finding out how to simplify the system without compromising on food safety issues.

The initiative has been welcomed by the shopkeepers’ branch organisation De Samvirkende Købmænd “mainly because there is a risk that people will get hold of items that for one reason or another shouldn’t be eaten”, the organisation’s head John Wagner told DR Nyheder.

“Additionally, it causes problems if containers are left open as they can attract rodents.”

Back on the straight and narrow
This should be music to the ears of ‘bin-divers’, a growing subculture specialising in climbing fences behind supermarkets after closing time and scavenging in the  food waste containers for useable edibles.

At the moment, unless the containers are freely accessible and not locked, this practice is technically illegal.

If supermarkets give food away to large organisations such as food banks or the Folkekirkens Nødhjælp charity, they will only need to pay a symbolic amount of VAT.