French new law to ban supermarkets from throwing away unsold foods
Feb 09, 2016 02:15 AM EST
France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing awaly unsold food by a new law that forces them to donate it to charities and food banks.
The new law was voted unanimously by the French senate last week after a petition launched by Courbevoie councillor Arash Derambarsh. France's other legislative chamber, the National Assembly, had unanimously voted on the same measures in December, Huffington Post reports.
The law comes after a lengthy campaign from anti-poverty activists, calling for the government to put in measures to reduce food waste.
Councillor Derambarsh wrote a petition promising that "10 million French people would not go hungry". He wrote in the petition that supermarkets thow away over 44 pounds of food everyday. The petition gained hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Under the law, stores bigger than 400 sq m (4,305 sq ft) will no longer be allowed to destroy food products approaching their best-before date. The supermarkets must sign donations deals so that unsold food can be used by charities.
The law also prohibits stores from pouring bleach over food items to prevent homeless people taking the unsold foods. It also mandates that schools across the country begin to educate students on the fight against food waste, Telegraph reports.
According to the Guardian, French food banks welcomed the new law, but they will have to increase their staff and storage in order to accept donations from stores and food companies.
Jacques Bailet of Banques Alimentaires, a network of French food banks, described the law as "positive and very important symbolically". Bailet said that the law would greatly increase an already emerging trend for supermarkets to donate to food banks.
The law requires food banks and charities to collect and stock the food in properly hygienic conditions and distribute it with "dignity", which means the food must be given out at a proper food bank or centre where human contact and conversation is fostered.
France's biggest supermarket group, Carrefour, said it welcomed the law, which would build on food donations its supermarkets already made.
The law will also allow food industries to give some excess products directly to food banks from factories.
Councillor Derambarsh said that the next step is to ask the president, François Hollande, to put pressure on Jean-Claude Juncker and to extend this law to the whole of the EU. The municipal councillor for Courbevoie said that the battle is only just beginning to fight food waste in restaurants, bakeries, school canteens and company canteens.