Campaigners are hoping to introduce a new law to the UK which originated from France that bans supermarkets from destroying food which has not been sold. Instead it obliges them to give the food away to charity, however some retailers are against the plan claiming that they already make a big contribution towards tackling food waste.
French Politician Proposes New Food Waste Law
The specific detail of the French law state that any store which is more than 400 square metres would have until July next year to sign contracts with charities or food banks to send them their produce if it is unsold.
The whole scheme was devised by Arash Derambarsh, a young French politician, who says he was outraged after seeing homeless people last winter scrambling in supermarket bins for food. He saw an opportunity to address the problem, so he set about creating the law and helping implement it across France.
He started in his campaign in his local Paris suburb of Courbevoie, collecting the unsold food from shops and distributing around the homeless people in the area. After realising how effective his plan could be, he created an online petition which helped draw attention to this proposal and create momentum for the law.
The charities he contacted were generally welcoming of his idea, although some expressed concern that they could end up with more food than they are able to deal with. “This had better not translate into a poisoned chalice,” says Olivier Berthe, president of the Restos du Coeur (Restaurants of the Heart) charity.
“We cannot be made to accept donations we do not need. We cannot become rubbish dumps.” Jacques Bailet, president of the French Federation of Food Banks (FFBA), also says there is a risk charities will not be able to handle the amount given to them. “Our food banks are going to need more staff, more lorries, more refrigerated rooms. But to get all that, we will need money - and money is pretty scarce these days,” he says.
The FFBA already receives 35% of its donations from supermarkets and other retailers, who say that they are unhappy at being labelled as an industry which wastes food and isn’t bothered about recycling their unused produce.
“It is wrong to point the finger at the big supermarkets when we represent just 5% of food waste in France. In fact we are exemplary - with 4,500 stores having already signed contracts with associations,” says Jacques Creyssel of the Federation for Commerce and Retail.
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