France’s new food waste laws will feed 10 million people

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Though many initiatives have been implemented around the world, two billion tons of edible food is discarded each year. The French government has taken efforts a step further by legislating the donation of unsold food from supermarkets, making it illegal to dispose of unsold food waste.

In France, food unsold by supermarkets must now be donated to food banks and charities, which allows them to feed millions more people each year.

As of February 3rd 2016, supermarkets larger than 400m2 are no longer allowed to dispose of their unsold produce, nor can they add harmful chemicals to the food such as bleach to discourage its consumption. With over 140,000 people living with no fixed address in France, who may not consistently be able to feed themselves, it’s an apt time for the government to step up their offensive.

“This law, for which we fought for months, will enable more than 10 million people to eat. Becoming the first country to legislate on this scandal, France proves that the word brotherhood still has meaning in our country,” writes Arash Derambarsh, the councillor whose campaign initiated France’s push for legislation. He aims to raise the issue for consideration at the next UN conference.

This is not the first of such waste reduction initiatives. Countries in Europe have been setting up infrastructure to reduce landfill waste and increase recycled goods for several years. Estonia currently leads the way with only 170kg of residual waste produced annually per person – about 40kg less than the next lowest figure. Food waste is still the highest of disposed goods, with half of all food being discarded before eaten. The French government’s legislation promises to regulate the redistribution of food discarded by supermarkets, most of which is edible.

French councillors are attempting to persuade the EU to introduce similar food waste laws. One petition urging EU member states to follow suit already has over 750,000 signatures.

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Photo Credit: Julie Kertesz on Flickr.

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