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Where operations meet ethics.

16 June 2015

Supermarkets in France will no longer throw away food

Unsold food will be donated – once the law is approved by the Senate.

French socialist MP and former Minister of Agriculture Guillaume Garot has sponsored a law considered by many as a test of civilization and further proof that France really is the home of European rights. After approval by the Senate, which is virtually guaranteed, French supermarkets over 400 square meters will have until July 1, 2016 to make agreements with charities in order to give away unsold food, which can no longer be destroyed.

Every French person throws away 20/30kg of food a year, so you can estimate the size of the waste food mountain that we are talking about. Instead, this food will be donated to the needy or used for animal feed and the production of compost.

The legislation has won worldwide approval, but it has not escaped criticism from the French Federation of Trade and Distribution. Their spokesman, Jacques Creyssel, has reminded the public that its members are responsible for no more than 5% of total food waste, and that 4500 outlets already have arrangements with non-profit associations to avoid unnecessarily wasting food, without the need for laws and penalties.

In Italy the amount of domestic waste produced is actually in decline, largely due to the financial crisis, but it is still estimated to account for around 0.5% of GDP. Here too, there have been proposals and declarations of intent, such as the unanimous approval by the Camera (Italian lower house of parliament) in June 2014 of a motion to commit the government to reducing waste. These commitments have, however, failed to produce concrete results. Nonetheless, Coldiretti (the Italian farmers organisation) points out there have been awareness campaigns, as well as agreements with retailers, including major supermarket chains, and high-profile non-profit organizations: a well-known example is the Banco Alimentare (Food Bank).
While we wait to see what will happen in France, each of us can help out in a small way and do our bit. Let’s not forget that according to Istat (the Italian national statistics agency) around 10 million Italians live in absolute poverty.

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