France bans supermarkets from disposing of edible food
The country's National Assembly unanimously voted in new laws last week that will force chains to donate discarded food to charity or allow it to be turned into animal feed, compost or energy.
The measure was reportedly proposed by Socialist deputy and former food minister, Guillaume Garot.
“It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods,” he was quoted as saying.
The law explicitly bans the practice of supermarkets deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten, according to the story.
Bigger supermarkets – those with a footprint of 400 square meters or more – will be obliged to sign formal contracts with charities by July next year, or face penalties including fines of up to €75,000 (US$83,000) or two years in jail.
The measures are part of wider official efforts to halve the amount of food waste in the country by 2025. According to official estimates, the average French person throws out 20-30kg of food a year, at a combined national cost of up to €20 billion (US$22 billion).
According to The Guardian, the law will also introduce a programme of education about food waste in schools and businesses, and follows a measure in February to remove the best-before date on fresh foods.
While the move has reportedly been welcomed by environmental groups, charities and food organisations, the Business and Distribution Federation, which represents big supermarkets, has criticized the plan.
“The law is wrong in both target and intent, given the big stores represent only 5% of food waste but have these new obligations,” organisation head Jacques Creyssel was quoted as saying.
“They are already the pre-eminent food donors, with more than 4,500 stores having signed agreements with aid groups.”
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