Anti-food waste champion calls on Obama, Cameron to follow France's lead
The French politician who spearheaded the campaign to ban supermarkets from throwing away unsold food is urging other European countries and the U.S. to follow suit.
Speaking with www.freshfruitportal.com, municipal councilor for the commune of Courbevoie in Paris, Arash Derambarsh called on U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker to follow in France's footsteps to change the laws and put an end to the food waste scandal once and for all.
"It really is simple. European member states as well as the U.S should follow our lead," he says.
"I am urging Barack Obama to make sure he fights for a change in the American law before he leaves office; this is one of the most important things that he should do before leaving the White House and if he does, then he leaves a legacy.
"We need to keep the momentum going. We are not waiting two or three years, we cannot wait; we have to do it now, but we need the support of the American people and residents of Europe."
A new law in France that forces supermarkets to donate edible food rather than throw it away came into effect earlier this month.
It makes dumping food from retailers of 4,305 sq ft or more illegal, and forces companies to distribute produce to charities such as food banks. French supermarkets have until July to make contractual arrangements with charities.
Derambarsh believes the only way to prevent large supermarkets from wasting food, much of which includes fresh produce, is to change legislation and make it a crime to do so.
He has been campaigning on the issue for several years and as a city councilor led the fight to the French Senate which unanimously passed the new law.
"The way I see it, the only ones who would be against the passing of a law like this are the supermarkets, but I don't care because my target is not helping the supermarkets - that is not my problem.
"I am not worried for the supermarkets because they already have a lot of money and I respect that. What does concern me, and what should concern everyone, is the amount of poor hungry people there are in the world who do not have access to food.
"I have a problem with the fact that there are so many poor people in the world living below the poverty live and who cannot afford to eat properly, while at the same time too much food is being thrown away. This is a scandal of huge proportions."
Derambarsh says there are approximately 80 million people across Europe living below the poverty line, although he believes these figures are rough estimates as it's impossible to calculate accurately.
"This was one of the fastest laws to be passed in France and we have demonstrated that it is possible to crackdown on food waste. I ask 'who on earth could be against this law?'
"The next step is Europe and the U.K. There are more than five million poor people in the U.K. who need help and support from food banks and charities.
"Having a law like this in the U.K. would help support millions of people. It is not so difficult to redirect food."
Meanwhile, another story concerning food waste has gone viral this week after a video showing sanitation workers in New York City dumping fresh produce.
Boxes of pears, mandarins, citrus, leeks and other fruit were taken off the street outside a Chinatown store and thrown into a dump truck after police had ticketed the shop owner for blocking the sidewalk.
During the video, members of a crowd can be heard asking 'Why are you throwing it away?'