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France has officially become the first nation in the world to ban supermarkets from wasting food thanks to a new law. Previously, some French grocery stores would keep unsold food in secure trash bins — a practice that’s also common for some U.S. grocery stores — in order to prevent those in need of food from taking what was discarded. However, things are now looking up with France’s mandate that all grocery stores over 4,304 square feet must hold a contract with a food bank or charity. And this move isn’t just good for people — it’s good for the planet.

It is estimated that one-third of food goes to waste worldwide. In the United States alone, we throw away about 60 million metric tons of food annually, and 32 million tons of that food waste ends up in landfills. We might not think much of this statistic because food naturally decomposes – unlike plastic, for example – but when organic matter breaks down, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a five-year period of time.

Given the amount of waste we generate, the United States could really stand to take a page or two from France. Can you imagine how much food we could redirect to hungry people if at least a portion of that 60 million metric tons of food were reclaimed? The good news is the U.S. does have plans to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030 – but there are also many things we can do as individuals to cut food waste at its source right now.

From planning your weekly shopping trips in advance to making over your leftovers, there are many ways we can help. In addition, you can get involved with food redirection programs in your area. There federal laws like the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act that encourage grocery stores to donate to local food pantries and some grocery stores work with volunteer-driven organizations to distribute food to those in need.

For more tips on what you can do to reduce food waste, check out these 6 Ways You Can Make a Difference Right Now.

Lead image source: Masahiro Ihara/Flickr



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38 comments on “Epic Move! French Grocery Stores Must Donate Unsold Food to Charity”

Click to add comment
Marissa Wellman
6 Months Ago

Ummm....many grocery stores do donate food that is unsold to local food shelves. I know this myself having used them. Unfortunately, the produce is often beyond saving, but meat is frozen on the use by date and bread can be frozen also.


Reply
De Best
6 Months Ago

From what I've seem so far in California, when a store gives away free food, it's already rotten and yes people can get very sick from eating that. The stores need to realize that those in need are people too


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Joan Oestreich
6 Months Ago

Apparently only parts of the US don't do this. In Washinton State grocery stores have worked with food banks for as long as I have lived here 32 yrs) all pulled produce & dairy is donated daily. Additionally most farms have gleaning programs for the food banks.


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Krystina Elayne Hale
6 Months Ago

It says usable food and if youre gonna sue anyone it should be walmart, their fruit always had bugs, is old or gets old fast and doesnt even look prewashed


Reply
Rachel Lea Ayers
6 Months Ago

Alright America step it up!!


Reply
Lily Boraks
6 Months Ago

Canada needs to play ketch up too!!!


Reply
Elizabeth Susanne Hubert
6 Months Ago

Massachusetts is moving to pass a law requiring any establishment producing one ton or more of food waste (leftovers, "day old" goods and spolied foods) to be sent to a composting facility. I would imagine donating food that is merely unsold or is expired by a day or two is cheaper because the companies need to pay to have their waste removed, so I have high hopes that this will force businesses to donate what can be donated before composting what has to be trashed.


Reply
Laurence Ian Marsh
6 Months Ago

Every single country should do this with all food (except dairy products) but it won't happen illuminarty and masons won't like it


Reply
Laurence Ian Marsh
6 Months Ago

Every single country should do this with all food (except dairy products) but it won't happen illuminarty and masons won't like it


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Diane Jarvis
6 Months Ago

Does seem a really good idea but there are bound to be implications - people suing from being sick, etc. One of the starter points would be that the supermarkets don't buy as much food in the first place


Reply
Begovic Scheherazade
12 Feb 2016

And again that is a blatant lie, you cannot be sued for food donated in good faith and that LAW is the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act. Again no one has been sued or sued anyone, any store, any company over donated food. That is just the lies the grocery stores use to not have to oh my put some banged up fruit and veggies on a cart for the local gleaning group to come and get???? They get tax breaks whether the food hits the dumpster or gets donated...so no incentive for them to donate it. Stop spouting the same old bullpucky

Jen Nifer
12 Feb 2016

http://www.foodtodonate.com/Fdcmain/LegalLiabilities.aspx

Jen Nifer
12 Feb 2016

http://www.foodtodonate.com/Fdcmain/LegalLiabilities.aspx

Diane Jarvis
13 Feb 2016

I am pleased to hear that people cannot sue - if that is the case then the supermarkets worldwide should either stock less food to waste or give charitably - I believe in helping the needy

Diane Jarvis
13 Feb 2016

I am pleased to hear that people cannot sue - if that is the case then the supermarkets worldwide should either stock less food to waste or give charitably - I believe in helping the needy



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