Italy Is Investing in Chic Takeout Bags to Make Leftovers Cool
Ciao, food waste. In Italy, lawmakers are encouraging diners to embrace takeout bags so the country throws out less food.
The problem: Wasting food costs Italy the equivalent of $14 billion a year, the New York Times reported. In Italy, each person chucks roughly 176 pounds of food a year. In the U.S., $29 billion worth of food is wasted each year because people get confused by sell-by dates, Mic previously reported.
While it's common for Americans to request takeout boxes at the end of a meal, taking leftovers home from restaurants in Europe is often considered vulgar.
A 2015 survey of Italians revealed only 9% of people would ask to take home leftover restaurant food. A whopping 40% said they would feel embarrassed to ask to take home leftovers. In France, taking leftovers home in doggy bags — sac à chien, literally "bag for dogs" — is frowned upon as well, the New Yorker noted.
Italy's solution: The Italian senate passed a number of laws Tuesday to make sure no delicious calorie goes uneaten. As Mother Jones reported, the laws include softening rules around donating semi-expired food to shelters and food distribution organizations and setting aside funds to encourage Italians to carry leftovers home from restaurants.
In an effort to make leftover bags more palatable to Italians, the government will also work to rebrand them as "family bags," according to a regional pilot program press release from December 2015. The swanky containers are a step up from styrofoam boxes. Take a look below.
Sophisticated logos and graphics are meant to make the family bags feel more fashionable, wrote Conai, a national sustainable packing consortium.
So will chic takeout boxes help Italians ditch the 'tude when it comes to leftovers?
Looks like it's already starting to work: According to the BBC, the regional family bag pilot program was a success and will now be introduced to the rest of the country, though Mic was unable to confirm how soon the bags will be in restaurants.