The war against food waste has had another triumph after France became the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing away or spoiling perfectly good food.
Stores of 400 square metres and above now have to sign contracts promising they will give unsold food due to be thrown away before its ‘best before’ date to charities and food banks – or they will face big fines or prison time.
The new law was passed unanimously by the French senate this week and now the anti-food waste campaigners who petitioned politicians want to see pressure put on the EU to enforce such laws in member countries.
A similar law could come into force in the UK. The Food Waste Bill is currently passing through Government and would see supermarkets entering into contracts with charities to use food waste for good causes.
In France, supermarkets have also been banned from spoiling quality food before its best before date. Bleach has been poured onto food and “waste” has been left to rot in locked containers to deter scavengers, reports The Guardian.
Jacques Bailet, head of Banques Alimentaires, a network of French food banks, told the newspaper the new law would greatly increase an already emerging trend for supermarkets to donate to food banks.
He said: “Most importantly, because supermarkets will be obliged to sign a donation deal with charities, we’ll be able to increase the quality and diversity of food we get and distribute.
“In terms of nutritional balance, we currently have a deficit of meat and a lack of fruit and vegetables. This will hopefully allow us to push for those products.”
WRAP, an organisation which helps people reduce waste, released figures that showed UK households threw away seven million tonnes of food waste in 2012, enough to fill London’s Wembley Stadium nine times over.
Avoidable household food waste in the UK is associated with 17 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, equivalent to the emissions produced by one in four cars.
So if some of that can be put to use to help people in need, it would definitely be a double win for the greater good.
Worldwide Food Waste Facts
- Every year, consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons)
- The amount of food lost and wasted every year is equal to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crops (2.3 billion tons in 2009/10)
North American Food Waste Facts
- In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions
- In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month