French MPs renew support for supermarket food waste ban

French MPs renew support for supermarket food waste ban Members of the French Parliament have voted unanimously to adopt a new bill requiring supermarkets to donate unsold food and prohibiting them from destroying or disposing of food fit for human consumption.

The measures contained within the bill debated by the National Assembly on 9 December also set out the preferred options for use of food that is not fit for human consumption, such as use in animal feed, compost or energy recovery.

Destroying food, including the reported practice of some supermarkets of adding bleach to their disposed food, will be prohibited and supermarkets will be required to sign an agreement with one or more organisations to redistribute their unused food.

The proposal will apply to supermarkets and ‘hypermarkets’ over 400 square metres and those not adhering to these measures will face fines of up to €75,000 (£54,000).

The bill, which was introduced in the National Assembly by former Minister for the Food Industry Guillaume Garot and others in September, is a reaction to the failure of a similar measure earlier this year.

MPs originally voted in favour of the proposal in May last year as part of the law on Energy Transition, but the articles relating to food waste were dropped by the French Constitutional Court in August as it deemed that there had not been sufficient time for MPs to consider them.

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.

The new Bill, co-signed by over 300 members of parliament, will be introduced in the Senate, the upper chamber of the French parliament, on 13 January.

’56 meals per household’ wasted each year

Jean-Pierre Decool, a member of the National Assembly and supporter of the new Bill, reported that 10 million tonnes of food waste arises each year in France alone, 1.2 million tonnes of which is still fit for human consumption.

That equates, he says to ’56 meals per household’ and an estimated loss of €12-20 billion (£8.7-14.5 million) per year. These figures are twice the amount observed in South East Asia, however on a global scale 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted every year according to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Similar measures needed across Europe

Arash Derambarsh, the local councillor who was behind the campaign that led to the proposed amendment earlier this year, has been campaigning for the introduction of the food waste law since December 2014.

He believes the next step is to get similar legislation introduced across all EU member States and so far 740,000 people across Europe have signed a petition set up by the Councillor to introduce such measures.

A month after the proposed French legislation was dropped, UK MP Kerry McCarthy, since appointed Shadow Environment Secretary, brought a similar Food Waste (Reduction) Bill to the House of Commons. If it succeeds, the bill would require supermarkets to reduce their food waste by 30 per cent by 2025. The bill will receive a second reading on 29 January.