France Cracks Down on Food Waste in Supermarkets

Fresh binned food to illustrate food waste
Copyright©U.S. Department of Agriculture

While a father with a minimum salary might be struggling to feed his family, a grocery might decide to throw away a large amount of unsold, edible food just as its best-before date approaches. Sadly, in many developed countries, this happens every day; the amount of wasted food increases together with the number of people having a hard time affording a proper meal.

France, which according to Le Monde, wastes around 7.1m tonnes of food every year, and where the phenomenon of poor people foraging in supermarkets bins at night to feed themselves has dramatically increased, has recently decided to take concrete steps in fighting food waste and helping the needy.

A new law, passed in February 2016, stops large supermarkets (of at least 400 squares meters) from binning good quality food approaching its best-before date by forcing them to donate it either to food banks or charities. Those who will flout the law will incur fines up to 3750 euros.

Thanks to the new regulation, practices such as pouring bleach on the unsold food to deter bin foragers won’t be allowed anymore.

The law will also simplify the bureaucracy for the food industries looking forward to giving their excess products to food banks.

This positive change in the legislation, which has been voted unanimously by the French National Assembly, is the result of a successful petition launched by Arash Derambarsh, a municipal councilor of Courbevoie, north-west of Paris. In an interview with the Guardian, Derambarsh has explained how he has started his campaign: by collecting and distributing unwanted food from his local supermarket, an action that eventually has allowed him and his supporters to feed up to 100 people per day.

But France is not the only European country committed to putting an end to the food squandering carried out by supermarkets. Italy, where the yearly value of the food being wasted amounts to 12.5 billion, and where six million people rely on food charities to eat, has recently passed a similar bill. Unlike France, instead of fining the lawbreakers, Italy will give incentives to those willing to donate their food (e.g. reductions in rubbish taxes).

The bill was passed in March by the Italian Parliament’s Lower House and it is now waiting for final approval from the Senate.

We at Froodly we hope that during the following months other countries will follow in France and Italy’s footsteps. What about you? We will keep an eye on this important topic, stay tuned!

Alice Moretti

Image credits Copyright©U.S. Department of Agriculture


2 thoughts on “France Cracks Down on Food Waste in Supermarkets

  1. I am hoping this spreads quickly! It is devastating the amount of food that is thrown out before it even hits supermarkets, and with it the amount of resources that went into growing it in the first place. I think what we can do as consumers is conscious shopping; do not buy more than you will eat. It is better to make a second trip to the grocery store than to have so much food you lose sight of what you have and it starts growing blue fuzz on it. Sigh. BIG problem. As I said… I hope this pattern of not binning food starts to become the norm. It does not make sense to waste 40-50% of our food and then have starving people in the same country; what kind of society do we live in where this is acceptable?!


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