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Japan discarded an estimated 6.12 million tons of still-edible food in fiscal 2017, down 310,000 tons from the previous year, as increasingly cost-conscious restaurants and convenience stores dumped less of it, according to government data.

The figure is the lowest since comparable data became available in fiscal 2012 and in line with its goal to halve such food waste from fiscal 2000 to 4.9 million tons by fiscal 2030.

In the reporting year, still-edible waste from food-related businesses fell 240,000 tons to 3.28 million tons while that from households dropped 70,000 tons to 2.84 million tons.

But environment minister Shinjiro Koizumi said the amount of waste could surge this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted school, pub and restaurant closures nationwide.

To make up for falling sales, an increasing number of restaurants are shifting toward takeout and delivery services.

"It cannot be helped, but I hope it will serve as an opportunity to think about food waste and establish the culture of using leftovers at home," Koizumi said at a recent news conference.

Based on the law promoting food waste reduction that took effect in October, the government aims to further promote the use of containers to take home leftovers and raise awareness of that through campaigns. The concept of doggy bags has not been widely adopted in Japan.

Waste produced during processing, such as vegetable peel and fish bones, fell 2.09 million tons from a year earlier to 25.5 million tons in fiscal 2017, with 17.67 million tons dumped by businesses and 7.83 million tons by households.

It usually takes two years for the government to compile food waste data based on reports from businesses and garbage-collection authorities.

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