The world now loses or wastes over a third of the food it produces, equating to a monetary value of USD 1 trillion annually. This is a shocking statistic when we consider how many people around the world are still going hungry every day. Food wastage also has a huge environmental impact contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
France is attempting to do its bit to tackle the food waste epidemic by bringing in new legislation banning supermarkets from destroying, or throwing away food. The legislation requires them instead to donate it to charity or send it to be turned into animal feed, compost, or energy. Supermarket leaders could face heavy fines or even jail time if they fail to comply. Alongside this, France are bringing in an educational program in schools to teach kids about food wastage.
In the US it is estimated that the equivalent of over 20 pounds of food per person per month is wasted. Some areas are trying to address this, such as in Seattle where both individuals and businesses can be fined if they are caught throwing food into the regular garbage rather than into recycling bins for composting. Additionally the US has legislation which encourages food donation, this includes tax incentives and the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. However there is clearly a long way to go – according to the National Resources Defense Council, US supermarkets throw out $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables alone each year.
Jacques Creyssel, head of France’s main commerce and distribution federation is concerned about how supermarkets will cope the cost of implementing new procedures to meet the legislation, and is discussing the ramifications with members of the federation. Additionally, some charities have expressed concern about whether they will have the resources in place to swiftly distribute the food to those in need. It is likely though, if the legislation proves successful, other countries will consider following suit.
Featured photo credit: Franse appelen in de supermarkt/Fred Inklaar via flickr.com