Amid a national epidemic of uncontrolled food waste, France could ban supermarkets from destroying surplus food, instead requiring them to donate goods no longer fit for sale to charities or farms to use as animal feed or compost. The National Assembly, France's lower house of parliament, approved the amendment unanimously on Thursday evening as part of a larger environmental bill.
Goods that are to be donated instead of thrown out include those that were packaged incorrectly or damaged, but remain edible, or that are past a use-by date but remain safe to eat. Food products past a firm expiration date would go to farms. Supermarkets with a footprint of at least 400 square miles must enter into formal contracts with charities by July 2016, or risk penalties that include a maximum fine of €75,000 ($82,600) or a two-year sentence.
"It's scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods," former food minister Guillaume Garot said. Garot also highlighted it as a matter of social justice toward those who go hungry. "This concerns our compatriots who suffer daily, which is intolerable in the 21st century."
The bill also aims at cutting down food waste in school cafeterias.
Environmental organizations lauded the amendment's approval, the Associated Press reported. In France, where each person is estimated to waste 44 to 66 pounds of food each year, the government has set out to reduce food waste by half by 2025.
The issue of food waste extends to all the world's nations. According to the United Nations Environment Program, each year, some one-third of the amount of food produced for human consumption — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or is wasted, a crisis that is detrimental to the economy and natural resources, further contributing to global warming.
Check out the troubling statistics on food waste: