French food waste law passes unanimously

The French parliament has adopted a series of measures against food waste today (3 February), after the Senate unanimously voted through a bill forcing supermarkets to take action.

The bill includes regulations to stop supermarkets throwing food away or making unsold food unfit for consumption through the addition of chemicals.

Under the law, supermarkets measuring over 400 square metres will be required to sign an agreement with one or more organisations to redistribute their unused food. Any found not to be adhering to these measures will face fines of up to €75,000 (£54,000).

Measures included in the bill put in place a hierarchy to recover value from the food, with prevention and redistribution at the top and animal feed and energy recovery at the bottom. Supermarkets will also be made to promote the cutting of food waste in school education projects and corporate responsibility programmes.

The bill passed through the National Assembly in December, also unanimously, having been introduced by Guillaume Garot, the former Minister for the Food Industry.

Several amendments to the bill were tabled, but at the request of the rapporteur, Chantal Jouanno, were recanted after she pointed out that passing the text as the National Assembly had approved would allow quicker implementation of its measures.

Second time lucky

The measures had been added to last year’s law on energy transition, and were voted through both chambers of the French parliament, but the additions related to food waste were stripped from the law by the country’s Constitutional Council, which deemed that they had been added too late to allow members of parliament to consider them properly.

Following the scrapping of the measures, in August, Ségolène Royal, French Minister for Ecology, rushed to reach a voluntary agreement with retailers to adhere to the measures outlined in the new bill as an interim measure prior to its approval.

Campaigner turns attentions to EU

French food waste law passes unanimously
Arash Derambarsh
Arash Derambarsh, who was voted to number 10 in this year’s Resource Hot 100 for his work campaigning against food waste in France, wrote in a blog on the Huffington Post today: ‘In France, today, we have on the one hand, a middle class with increasing economic problems… [and] on the other side, every supermarket throws away more than 50 kilogrammes of food every day. This is unthinkable with the current economic crisis!

‘This law, for which we fought for months, will enable more than 10 million people to eat. Becoming the first country to legislate on this scandal, France proves that the word ‘brotherhood’ still has meaning in our country.

‘We now call on the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Today there are more than 80 million people suffering in Europe we must think of. It is urgent to act.’

Derambarsh has already helped to set up a petition to introduce similar legislation across EU member states and it has so far received over 754,000 signatures.

UK food waste legislation

The unanimous approval of the French food waste law comes just days after a similar bill was due to get its second reading in the UK parliament.

Kerry McCarthy’s Food Waste (Reduction) Bill was scheduled to be discussed in the House of Commons on Friday (29 January), but because of a long debate earlier in the agenda and several urgent questions was pushed back until 4 March.

McCarthy, who since introducing the bill has been made Shadow Environment Secretary, has said, however, that she expects that the relisted bill will be ‘way down the Order Paper’.

Drafted by MPs across different political parties, including McCarthy, Zac Goldsmith of the Conservatives and the Green Party’s MP Caroline Lucas, the bill aims to tackle ‘unsustainable levels of industry food waste’.

The French text of the law passed can be found on the Senate's website.