France is forcing supermarkets to give wasted food to charity with radical new laws
France has made it illegal for big supermarkets to throw away edible food, in a bold move designed to reduce the country's chronic food waste.
A series of new laws now forbids supermarkets with a floor area of more than 400 square meters from chucking away food that's past its sell-by date or doesn't meet requirements in other ways.
As in Britain, food that can no longer be sold on French supermarket shelves is often destroyed by pouring chemicals on it - destroying food that could help hungry people - but this is now banned.
The country’s National Assembly unanimously voted in the new laws on Thursday. They will force supermarkets to donate discarded food to charity, or to let it be made into compost, energy or animal feed.
Supermarkets must set up a contract with a charity to prove they are keeping to the new rules.
Food waste is a big problem in France: each French person throws away an average of 20 to 30kg of food a year, according to French newspaper L'Express - the equivalent of up to 139 McDonald's Big Macs.
This is wasting $12 to 20 billion euros every year, the paper says, so the government set a radical target three years ago, to half food waste by 2025.
France's Minister for Food, Guillaume Garot, said it was "scandalous" that bleach was being poured onto edible food that supermarkets didn't want, L'Express reported.
Michel-Edouard Leclerc, head of the major French retail distributor Association des Centres Distributeurs E. Leclerc, welcomed the new law but said the industry must help to "organise the collection on the other side" by providing trucks and fridges to distributors.
The UK could learn from the French example: a damning report in 2014 found that 4.3 million tonnes of surplus food is produced each year on these shored – but only two per cent of that goes to charities to feed the hungry.
Around 3.7 million tonnes is destroyed in landfill, thermal treatment and by other methods.
According to the Feeding Britain report, almost 10,000 Cornish pasties were rejected by the supermarket Morrisons in 2014, according to The Independent.
Meanwhile, the number of Brits using food banks is estimated at at least half a million.
As part of the new French laws, lessons on food waste will now be included in school eduction, and companies will be able to get involved with this.