France outlaws supermarket food waste

Since February 2016, supermarkets in France are no longer allowed to throw away or destroy unsold food. Following a law passed unanimously by the French senate, supermarkets are expected to donate any leftover food to food banks or charities instead. The law applies to supermarkets with a footprint of over 400 m2. The process for food banks to receive donations directly from the factory has also been simplified.

Under the legislation, supermarkets are also prevented from deliberately spoiling food to prevent foraging. This follows a growing trend amongst those on low incomes of foraging for products thrown out just before they reach their expiry dates.

Campaigners in France are now focusing on the European Union, calling for the European Commission to consider developing such a measure at the European level and lobbying for similar laws to be implemented in other member states. Such a law could have a powerful influence on food waste: the EU wastes 89m tonnes of food a year, while an estimated 1.3bn tonnes are wasted worldwide annually.