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Fine for wasting food or rebate for not?

Instead of just charging for leftover food, an incentive to finish portions may work too.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 22, 2020, 10.17 AM IST
The current UN estimates that we waste enough food annually to feed 3.3 billion more people. (Representative image)
Paying to eat is one thing, but paying to waste may not go down so well with the average diner. So, the move by a resort in Coorg to charge guests a hefty Rs 100 per 10 gm of leftovers and donate the proceeds to charity is commendable. More so as the guests have apparently not wriggled out of paying this surcharge by asking for doggie-bags instead to carry away what they could not eat.

The idea is not new, but nor is it a widespread practice either, which explains the current UN estimates that we waste enough food annually to feed 3.3 billion more people. In other words, food doesn’t go merely from farm to fork — much of it travels onwards to dumpsites. Of course, there is always a possibility that if patrons order less — in order to waste less and pay less — restaurants will also have to cook less, indent and purchase less and ultimately hire less too.

A counter-intuitive strategy could also be to reward eating more — i.e., not wasting the portions provided — instead of penalising waste. If a rebate is offered on the full price of a meal for not leaving a single morsel on the plate (as parents used to insist back in the day), there would be an incentive to order only as much as people can finish. Then diners would also probably not look too closely at markups either and there would be less garbage bags for the restaurant to fill later.
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