France’s food waste prevention law making inroads 2 years in

World Today

France has been trying to end food waste through a progressive law passed in 2016 requiring supermarkets to donate unsold products to food banks. It’s estimated that one-third of all food is thrown away around the world.

CGTN’s Lucy Taylor reports on how well it’s working, two years on.

Every morning, people at the Paris Food Bank collect food that supermarkets would otherwise throw away. And there’s lots of it. A depot in Paris handles thousands of tons of food every year. From here it’s passed on to food banks.

“No I was really surprised, the first time I came here, the products are good, they’re not old, they’re just surplus,” said Patrick Painon of the Paris Food Bank. “And you can see the potatoes are excellent, the carrots too, they might not always look the best but they are good, and the fresh products, the meat, the yogurt, are really good quality.”

These donations are not given out of goodwill alone. Since 2016, French supermarkets have been required to give unsold food to good causes or face heavy fines. France was the first country in the world to develop such a law.

Today less than 2 percent of food produced in France is wasted, and the average waste per person is half that of the United States. The vegetables may be sprouting but they’re nutritious.

Across France, warehouses like this one give away 220 million meals a year.

It’s a model being looked at by countries across Europe. In Italy, businesses are offered incentives to donate unwanted food, but are not penalized if they don’t.

In France, charities say donations are increasing by 8 to 9 percent each year.

“I think as you know in France food is quite important, you know,” said Jacques Bailet, national president of the French Food Bank Network. “And I think that the law made people more conscious of the fact that it was no longer acceptable to have people in difficult situations, and others wasting foods. So the law was clearly at the right moment.”