Thanks to a law passed unanimously by its senate, France has become the first country in the world to force supermarkets by law to hand over unsold food to charities and food banks, instead of discarding it.
By setting a mandatory target, the new measures aim to reduce the currently estimated 7 million tonnes of food wasted every year. Moreover, stores will no longer be allowed to pour bleach or water on food to render it inedible, putting an end to an unethical, yet legal, common practice. To avoid a penalty of €3,750 (more than $6,300), supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sqm or more will have to sign donation deals with charities.
For their part, charities will be obliged to stock the donations in good hygienic conditions.
The path has been cleared for other countries to follow, starting with the UK; while a voluntary agreement with the grocery and retail sector is already in place, a new ‘Food Waste (Reduction) Bill’ was introduced last September to require large supermarkets, manufacturers and distributors to cut their food waste by no less than 30 percent by 2025, by entering into formal agreements with food redistribution organisations. The Bill will have its second reading debate in March.