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Supermarkets in France banned from throwing away food

  • Checkout
  • May 26, 2015
  • Elly Strang
Supermarkets in France banned from throwing away food

Grocery stores with a footprint of 4,305 square metres or more will have to sign a contract with a charity by July 2016 or face penalties.

The penalties include a fine of up to €75,000 (NZ$112,281) or two years in jail.

French media have reported in recent years how the poor are struggling to get by and dumpster dive in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves.

But some supermarkets were ensuring food was unable to be scrounged by pouring bleach over food in dumpsters or locking bins away in warehouses.

The law was introduced to halve food wastage in France by 2025. Estimates show the average French person throws out 20-30kg of food a year.

France’s federation for commerce and distribution, which advocates for supermarkets, has criticised the plan and called it misguided.

He says its large supermarket chains are responsible for five percent of food waste in France and they’re already the biggest donors of food.

Back in New Zealand, there is no official law enforcing supermarkets to give away food to charities, but a lot do it anyway.

Foodstuffs corporate PR director Antoinette Laird says the company has initiatives in place to curb food waste.

Groceries from Pak’n Save and New World are donated to a food bank twice a week and frozen products are sold to staff.

Bread, dented tins and other products are donated to food banks and women’s refuges.

Countdown also has a food rescue programme.

A spokesperson says that in the last financial year, $3.4 million worth of food was donated to organisations such as the Salvation Army, Kaibosh, Foodshare and Fair Food.  

Despite these efforts, WasteMINZ and local councils found that New Zealanders chuck out more than 120,000 tonnes of food waste a year.

Do you think the problem lies with New Zealand’s supermarkets or its consumers?

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