The French National Assembly has passed legislation banning supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. Instead, supermarkets must donate it to charity or use it as animal feed or compost. This is part of France’s wider efforts of halving the amount of food waste in the country by 2025. According to official estimates the average citizen throws out 20-30kg of food a year – 7kg of which is still in its wrapping. The cost of all this food wasted is EUR 20 billion per year.
As part of the new legislation supermarkets – with a footprint of 400 sq. m or more – will have to sign a contract with charities by July 2016, or face severe penalties of up to EUR 75,000 or two years in jail. The law will also introduce an education program about food waste in schools and business. However, according to Federation du Commerce et de la Distribution, which represents large supermarkets, the new law is wrong in target and intent as supermarkets represent only five percent of food waste compared to 67 percent of food being thrown out by consumers, 15 percent by restaurants and 11 percent by shops.
Vancouver banning food waste in garbage
Meanwhile at the city-level, Vancouver on January 1st 2015 banned food scraps from being thrown away in the garbage. As part of the city’s goal of reducing waste from around a million tons in 2015 to 900,000 tons in 2015, the city requires all food scraps – raw and cooked food, leftovers, expired meat and dairy products – to be recycled into compost rather than be sent to landfills where food and other organic materials create methane. In addition, food buried under layers of garbage doesn’t decompose properly limiting availability of space; an issue given more than 30 percent of waste sent to landfills in Vancouver is compostable organics.
For the first six months of the program, the city will educate and encourage people to separate food waste from regular waste; however, from July 1st the city will penalize non-compliance by adding a 50 percent surcharge on top of the tipping fee. With loads being as big as 10 tons, with a tipping fee of $80 per ton, putting food scraps into the waste could amount to $400 on top of an $800 fee. The tipping fee is $130 for loads under a ton and so a surcharge would be $65.
Countries, as well as cities, are attempting to reduce food waste through regulations and penalties but are they targeting the right sectors?