France Takes Huge Step to Stop Food Waste

Don’t expect to do any dumpster diving outside French supermarkets anytime soon. That’s because the country has banned supermarkets from throwing out or otherwise destroying unsold food, reports the Guardian. The ban forces supermarkets to donate unsold food to charities for animal food.

“The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat,” reports the Guardian.

French centre-right deputy Yves Jégo told parliament: “There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food. The most moving part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering.”

Under the new rule, supermarkets larger than 4,305 square feet will have to sign contracts with charities that can take the market’s food waste, or face penalties including jail time. The stores have until July 2016 to sign contracts with organizations that work with distributing food donations to those in need.

“It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” said the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot, a former food minister who proposed the bill.

According to the Guardian, French media have highlighted “how poor families, students, unemployed or homeless people often stealthily forage in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves, able to survive on edible products which had been thrown out just as their best-before dates approached.”

But supermarkets have caught on, and began using methods to deter dumpster divers, such as using bleach in dumpsters or locking the food in warehouses until it can be picked up by trash collectors.

While the new law may make foraging more difficult for dumpster divers, there are other benefits to the French, including food waste educational programs that will be introduced to schools and business. According to the French government, the average resident tosses about 45-55 pounds of edible food per year, 15 pounds worth is still in its wrapping, reports the Guardian.

Image: carlos a martinez 

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