To handle the fast-growing problem of food waste, French government has recently made it mandatory for supermarkets to give away unsold food items to charity or as animal feed. Passed by the country’s senate this week, the law dictates that those who fail to do so will face fines of around $82,324 (or €75,000), plus two years in prison. Authorities believe that the step could greatly reduce the amount of food thrown away every year.
Food waste in France amounts to over 7.1 million tonnes; a figure that includes the unsold food deliberately destroyed by retailers to prevent those in need, such as students, poor people and the homeless, from consuming it. According to the new law, supermarkets bigger than 4,305 sq ft will now have to donate the extra food to charities of their choice. Failure to follow the rules, however, would likely get them penalized.
The law also forbids large retailers from intentionally destroying edibles that are nearing their expiration dates. Grocery store owners in France have often been found to pour bleach over unsold food, in order to prevent others from consuming it. Aimed at educating consumers, the law hopes to halve the amount of food waste generated in the country. Of the 7.1 million tonnes of food that is thrown away annually, around 11-percent is discarded by retailers, while over 67-percent is trashed by consumers themselves. This in turn translates to nearly $21.95 billion (approx. €20 billion).
Across the world, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is cast away each year. This, according to the World Bank, is equivalent to between one-quarter and one-third of the total food produced all over the globe. To improve the situation, the French government is also planning to establish special educational programs that can impart knowledge about food wastage and its effects in today’s world.
Source: French Senate