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What is China's new 'Clean Plate' campaign?

The Government is calling on the public to help tackle the issue of food waste. This is what it will look like in Shanghai

Photograph: Jasmin Schreiber via Unsplash
The next target in China's waste management overhaul: food waste. After introducing new rubbish sorting rules in July last year, the city is calling on the public again with its recently launched a 'Clean Plate' campaign, aiming to tackle the big issue of food wastage by asking people to watch what they order.

This isn't the first time China has seen a push for 'clean plates' to combat food waste, the first wave was a Government-endorsed grassroots movement launched in 2013. However, the latest drive of the national campaign was in direct response to a talk given by the Government, calling the amount of food wastage ‘shocking and distressing’.

In 2018, research by the Geographic and National Resource Research and the World Wide Fund surveying 366 restaurants in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Lhasa showed nearly 100 grams of food was wasted per person per meal in China, China Daily reports. Which means 11 percent of food went directly to the bins untouched.

According to SHINE, the Shanghai city authorities have issued a guideline requiring restaurants to indicate the amount of food per portion and recommended numbers of diners for their set menus. Restaurants will also offer ‘half portions' and 'small portions' in addition to standard meals. As an extra, the guideline also asks restaurants to remind customers to take away the food that they haven’t finished, while many buffets are charging 100RMB deposits to discourage people from overfilling plates. Similar measures will also be implemented across schools, hospitals and more.

Restaurants may also offer diners membership rewards, parking and food discounts and more to encourage food-saving behaviour, while venues who successfully reduce food waste may get reduced garbage sorting fees.

Time to lick those plates clean, folks.

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