Considering that roughly one-third of the edible food in the world goes uneaten, it is an absolute shame to see garbage cans full of edible food being wasted. How can people across the world complain about poverty and starvation when we throw away almost as much food as we eat? That is the same question that Guillaume Garot, a French politician was asking. Garot, a former food minister said that “It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods.” So he introduced a bill that would make throwing away edible food illegal, and the French Government passed it with flying colors.
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According to the Washington Post, “The law, as written, is one of the most stringent attempts to cut the amount of edible but unbecoming produce tossed out every day. As of July 2016, large supermarkets in France — those approximately 4,300 square feet and larger — will face fines of up to $82,000 for failing to comply.”
Under the law, French grocers will either have to donate the unused, edible foods to charity or make sure it is used for animal feed. France, along with the rest of the European Union has committed to cutting food waste by 50% by the year 2025. This new law is the first of its kind, but I would not be surprised to see other countries follow suit. This also isn’t the first law that France has passed in an effort to cut on food waste. In 2013, France passed laws to force food producers to more accurately label their food to reflect realistic shelf life.
Read: A British supermarket plans to use its food waste for energy purposes
Seeing France take such a bold step towards cutting food waste makes you wonder when the US is going to step up and do something similar. Americans throw away more food than they throw away glass, plastic, paper, or metal.
To Really put the food waste issue in perspective, the U.N. pointed out “Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).”
The truth is, ridiculous food standards have led to a reality in which countries everywhere, especially the developed ones, throw away more food each year than it would take to feed every hungry mouth in the world. These food standards include throwing away perfectly good food simply because it doesn’t meet a certain physical standard, deceptive labeling of expiration dates, and inefficiencies in handling foods before they are sold.
As amazing as this legislation from France is, keep in mind that the food waste epidemic is global. Check out the following video from The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations to see just how bad the food waste issue really is:
Image source: Food wastage footprint