France to ban food waste in supermarkets

All large-sized supermarkets will have to sign contracts with a charity group to facilitate food donations [EPA]
All large-sized supermarkets will have to sign contracts with a charity group to facilitate food donations [EPA]

France’s parliament has voted unanimously to ban food waste in big supermarkets, notably by outlawing the destruction of unsold food products.

Under the legislation passed on Thursday, as part of a broader law on energy and the environment, supermarkets will be forced to donate any unsold but still edible food goods to charity or for use as animal feed or farming compost.

All large-sized supermarkets will have to sign contracts with a charity group to facilitate food donations.

“It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” Socialist member of parliament Guillaume Garot, who sponsored the bill, said.

At present, some grocery stores are pouring bleach in bins after throwing away food to make it unfit for consumption.

French people throw away between 20 to 30 kilos of food per person per year costing an estimated $13m to $22m annually, according to the AFP news agency.

The government is hoping to slice food waste in half by 2025.

Last month, MPs presented 39 suggestions to the French government to end food waste, among them, that French people take up “le doggy bag”, to cut food waste in restaurants.

The head of the French federation for commerce and distribution, Jacques Creyssel, said it was a mistake for the new law to only target big supermarkets, which he said represent only five percent of total food waste.

Up to one third of all food globally is spoiled or squandered before it is consumed by people, according to the UN.

The waste of about 1.3 billion tons of food each year is causing economic losses of $750bn and significant damage to the environment, a 2013 report stated.

Source: Agencies


More on food waste

More discussion on food waste on theguardian today: Why do we still waste so much food at home?

From the comments,

“The whole system of supermarkets is flawed – they don’t work. The idea of transporting large quantities of food to a large warehouse, which thousands of people then drive to to collect is disturbing. When the system is massively inefficient, the consumers of that system see no issue in being wasteful. The faux “packed shelves” of the supermarket system, burgeoning with shite food – 90% of which comes from about 10 suppliers (unilever etc etc.) draws in the customer. The known tricks of packaging to get the purchaser to buy the “now even chocolatier chocolate” or the huge bargain of “33% extra free”, move the person away from the product’s quality – in fact product quality seems to be derived entirely from a product’s brand these days; insane, given that most people would have no idea from where the core ingredients came. Added together, we now have a public that are so far removed from the process of food creation, that they have no idea what they’re eating, where it came from, the energy used in its production, or even what’s in it – in short, we’re a nation of food illiterates. If you don’t understand the process, then the waste won’t be a concern.”

“We are a family of 5 and I made the decision to stop using supermarkets about two years ago. We now source all of our food from farmers markets and veg box schemes (we live in London so I know we are lucky to have so many markets). Supermarket shopping is a hard habit to break, but with the extra effort required to procure all of our food and the fact that markets aren’t open all the time mean that we hardly waste any food at all. Also, we don’t actually spend any more than we used to – but now the quality is so much better, I actually know where all of our food comes from and I prefer giving money directly to the suppliers rather than to supermarkets.”