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China targets overeating, food waste with new draft law

China targets overeating, food waste with new draft law
The Chinese government is addressing the country's food waste with a new draft bill after launching a “Clear Your Plate” campaign in the summer. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 23 (UPI) -- China is drafting a law that will ban all media that promote overeating and implement heavy fines against offenders.

Any Chinese broadcaster, radio, TV or online, would be prohibited from promoting overeating or other activity that results in large amounts of food waste. The fine is up to $15,029, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

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The legislation being deliberated at the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp legislature.

Beijing has denounced the large volume of food waste generated annually. Under Xi Jinping, the government has launched a "Clear Your Plate" campaign, encouraging the public to order less food at restaurants, and asking business owners to put up campaign posters, according to Xinhua news agency.

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Chinese news services are also required to "promote public awareness of preventing food waste," the report said.

Dining out is a favorite pastime in the country, but the latest wave of excessive eating may have begun online, with the rise of social media stars on platforms like TikTok.

The "mukbang" videos, named after the Korean word for the genre, were banned earlier this year. China produces 35 million tons of food waste every year, enough to fill 40,000 soccer stadiums to a height of 1 meter, South Korean television network JTBC reported Wednesday.

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Ordinary Chinese said they are skeptical that new laws could curb food waste.

A Chinese woman in Beijing who spoke to JTBC said excessive ordering at restaurants is a "weakness of Chinese food culture." A restaurant owner in the same city told the South Korean network that he doesn't think the law will work.

On social media, Chinese commenters said the law was "catering to the leadership," or Xi.

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"As a business, who would punish its own customers?" one person said, according to The Guardian.

The proposed law includes fines of up to $1,529 for businesses that encourage customers to order too much food and leave leftovers.

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