Environmental policies are probably the hottest issue of our time and most Countries are developing and implementing new solutions to reduce waste and CO2 emissions. Environmental policies in Italy have lagged behind for a few years, but the Country is finally catching up, with multiple interesting proposals successfully making their way through the law-making process and several industries embracing sustainability. The latest in a series of excellent new directives involves a 20% discount on non-packaged produce and food products.
How does the discount work?
The decree, which is part of a comprehensive bill that aims at boosting environmental policies in Italy. It offers a significant discount on all products that are sold in bulk and not packaged in jars, cans, cartons, wooden crates, nor wrapped in plastic or aluminium. The bill specifically mentions food products, but also detergents that come in liquid form and can be sold in bulks from taps. Customers are therefore encouraged to bring their own containers, just as shops and supermarkets are encouraged to provide these options for the public. The discount will be offered by the government to the retailers in the form of a tax discount of up to € 10.000 per year.
What can you buy in bulk?
It is hard for us to imagine it, but packaged products sold by the unit are a relatively new invention – and one that has already wrecked the planet more than we can possibly imagine. All through the first half of the XX Century, in most of Europe, it was customary for local shops to sell everything in bulk, occasionally wrapping certain goods – like fish or meat – in paper. As quaint and old-fashioned as the image of a family visiting the local grocery store with a wicker basket to collect their purchases may appear to us, this was pretty much the norm no longer than two generations ago. Nowadays, thousands of shops and supermarkets are experimenting with bringing this culture back. The first step was promoting campaigns for reusable shopping bags, which led to the outright banning of plastic ones in many Countries. Then taps were installed in many stores, selling anything from soap to beer, from breakfast cereal to flour, from yoghurt to sugar by weight.
Environmental policies in Italy: what needs to change
Many argue that this bill is a watered-down version of what the Country and the planet actually need. Sure, it supports the reduction of plastic waste and it promotes green mobility by offering discounts for drivers that trade in gas and petrol cars for electric ones, but there are other aspects that environmental policies in Italy should be addressing. These include tougher laws on illegal waste disposal and general optimisation of infrastructures and public transport networks, to reduce car traffic altogether. This bill is certainly a step in the right direction and environmentalists all over the Country are hoping and clamouring for it to be but the first of many and to herald in a whole new direction in environmental policies in Italy.