In the footsteps of a new law mandating commercial buildings to carry green roofs (covered in plants and/or solar panels), France has now struck a blow against food waste.

A staggering 1/3 of all food is spoiled or squandered before anyone has the chance to eat it (adding up to about 1.3 billion tonnes a year). While not all of this waste is caused by supermarkets refusing to donate leftover or physically unattractive foods, that is certainly a contributing factor.


It has become commonplace for supermarkets to put locks on their trash, and to throw away extra or soon-to-be-expired food, instead of donate it to charity or leave it accessible to those who would otherwise have nothing to eat. People have literally been arrested (and charged with burglary), fined, or thrown in jail for trying to take home still edible food that supermarkets were trying to throw away.

Now, France has decided to set a new precedent by not only allowing people to take food supermarkets would otherwise throw away, but actually making it illegal for the supermarkets to throw away otherwise edible food.

France’s National Assembly (legislative body) unanimously voted on new laws last week which will force supermarket chains to donate discarded food to charity or allow it to be turned into animal feed, compost or energy. After all, even rotten food can be turned into high-protein health-food using the right techniques. There is literally no reason to be throwing food into sealed landfills, especially when much of this food could be used to feed the needy.

If you want to better picture exactly how much we waste, here is a more detailed infographic from the FAO. Laws like those in France would help reduce waste on the distribution and consumption sides of the equation.