French Gov to Grocers: Toss Food Out, Pick Up Fines

As the phenomenon of global food waste gains attention, France plans to ban grocery stores from tossing unwanted food.

The unanimous decision made by the French assembly last month will require grocery stores to donate leftover food to charities and for animal feed. The new law also prevents supermarkets from intentionally spoiling unsold food to render it inedible.

Stores are required to sign formal contracts with food charities between now and next July, and will be required to give the unwanted food to charities in a way that doesn’t create additional work for the charity itself (i.e., the charity workers cannot be burdened with sifting through food to pick out what’s gone rotten). Failure to comply with the new laws will result in hefty fines for the grocer, potentially up to $80,000, or even two years of jail time.

France wastes 7.1 million metric tons of food per year, a small but significant part of the 1.3 billion metric tons of food wasted per year worldwide. (In comparison, the United States racks up 60.3 million metric tons in food waste per year.) Of France’s waste, 67 percent is thrown out by consumers, 15 percent by restaurants, and 11 percent by grocers, according to the Guardian. Therefore, although this measure is a stride toward France’s goal of halving their food waste over the next 10 years, it must not be the only step taken to cutting food waste overall.

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