For Costa, the battle against food waste is one of the central challenges of sustainable development and support for local communities in its ports of call. This is the context of the partnership agreement with Fondazione Banco Alimentare, a member of the European Federation of Food Banks which has been actively engaged for many years both in Italy and internationally. The Italian food bank charity is an important point of reference when it comes to fighting food waste and takes part regularly in round-table discussions dealing with the issue.

The project organized by Costa and FBA, part of ongoing efforts to combat poverty and social exclusion, has been made possible thanks partly to Law no. 166/2016 on food waste and surplus pharmaceutical products. This bill, which was promoted by Italian MP Maria Chiara Gadda and passed into law on September 14, 2016, restructured the regulatory framework concerning donations of unsold food items and introduced simplification, harmonization and incentive measures, making it easier to donate any type of food in accordance with food safety regulations; most importantly, it gave priority to retrieving food and streamlining donations to the poorest people in the country.

The surplus food donation initiative is a first for global shipping, confirming once again Costa’s role as an industry pioneer. The pilot project, launched officially on board the Costa Diadema, is based initially in Savona; it is the result of a multi-stakeholder approach – this being an essential condition for such a complex venture – with the involvement of the Savona Customs Office as well as the local Border Control Public Health & Safety Agency. Specifically, the project will concentrate on “ready to eat” food, i.e. items prepared for the day’s buffet but not served to guests. They will be placed in special aluminum containers labeled to ensure that they can be traced, and then stored in the walk-in refrigerators on board. The next day, when the ship docks in the Port of Savona, the containers will be unloaded and delivered to Banco Alimentare volunteers, who will take them to the nearby town of Varazze, to Fondazione L'Ancora, which runs a shelter that is home to 20 children and also provides meals to over 280 people in need, including refugees.

It is planned to expand the scale of operations and extend the project to other Mediterranean ports.

The kick-off event on July 22 in Savona was attended by Italian Deputy Maria Chiara Gadda, who promoted and drafted Law no. 166/2016 encouraging donation of surplus food, and by Italy’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Senator Andrea Olivero.
Being here today shows that the law against food waste, in force since last September, is bearing fruit and that the government has acted promptly and effectively, and most importantly has triggered a cultural change on the issue of the battle against food waste and support for those in poverty. We must be aware of the widespread responsibility that this issue brings with it and that involves everyone, to different extents and in different ways, be they institutions, citizens, volunteers or the business world, because everyone can play their own part to help change things.
Deputy Minister Andrea Olivero
I'm thrilled, and it's a great source of pride for me to see that the innovation introduced by Law 166/2016, approved by the Italian Parliament with an overwhelming majority and strongly supported by the government, is bearing fruit. This is proof that politics is useful, and very much so: Parliament has been able to put needs and good practices into order.Today, this ambitious project is sending out an important message: retrieving surpluses even in the most complex situations is not just a pipe dream, but it is genuinely achievable if everyone takes on their share of responsibility.
The Hon. Maria Chiara Gadda
After the Gadda Law against food waste came into effect, we worked with Costa Cruises for eight months to organise a food surplus management procedure that would allow us to salvage high-quality and high-nutritional value food. Today we are very happy to know that this food will not be wasted but will be given to an organisation that provides assistance to children, at a time when ISTAT tells us that child poverty in Italy “rose from 3.9% in 2005 to 12.5% in 2016. From now on, we will be focussing on extending this best practice to other ports in Italy, and we hope that all stakeholders will collaborate, as has happened in Savona.
Andrea Giussani, President of the Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus
We are very proud of this initiative: it is something that is brand new for the cruise sector and something that Costa has been very keen to see take place. The Banco Alimentare is an authoritative partner and a point of reference in the fight against food waste, and it will allow us to donate surplus food to the people who need it most. We are beginning with Savona and our flagship Costa Diadema, but the common goal is to involve more and more ships and ports in Italy and the Mediterranean. Since preparing food for disembarkation is a unique occurrence, it has led to the direct participation of the Customs Agency and Maritime Health Organisation Agency in putting the finishing touches to the procedures for delivery, and it shows that it is possible to turn the opportunities provided by Law 166/2016 into something worthwhile. All this is a starting point for anyone who wants to join us in the maritime sector.
Neil Palomba, President of Costa Cruises
1 of 11