By Franck Ardourel @usedigital

According to official estimates, the average French person throws out 44lbs-66lbs of food a year. But, what does not make sense is that 15lbs of food that is still wrapped in its original packaging. The combined national cost of this is up to $22B. I do not know about other developed countries, but I am pretty sure that the average German, English, Italian, US, Canadian… person should be similar to the average French person. Then, it is easy to run the number of the cost of food waste per year.

France Supermarkets That said, 1.3bn tons of food is wasted worldwide each year, and this issue impacts our environment. Recently, the French national assembly voted unanimously to pass a legislation barring stores from throwing away food. France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat. The legislation includes an education program about food waste that will be introduced in schools and businesses.

French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed. This makes sense and should not have to be required by law. By making individuals and organizations responsible for diligently redistributing food this new law will help reinforce sustainability behavior.

World leaders are urged to tackle food waste to not only to save billions but also cut emissions. The domino effect is real. By regulating the food industry, French officials are trying to reduce the consumption of water, electricity and the cost of food waste and CO2 emissions. There is an absolute urgency to solve this issue.

In the meantime, charities are desperate for food. The most touching part of this law is that it opens us up to others who are suffering. Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq. ft. will have to sign contracts with charities by July 2016 or face penalties including fines of up to $85,000 or two years in jail.

But, isn’t scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods? In recent years, French media have highlighted how poor families, students, unemployed or homeless people often stealthily forage in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves, able to survive on edible products which had been thrown out just as their best-before dates approached. There is definitively room for improvement. Of course we will have to be cautious about certain products such as cheese, fruit, yogurts and find ways to prevent food poisoning. Enhancing individual, corporate, and community engagement will help drive behavior change over time. It is necessary…

Pressure groups, recycling organizations and direct action foraging movements have been highlighting the issue of waste of food in France for years. Some organization have illegally removed food from supermarket bins at night and redistributed it on the streets the next morning to raise awareness about waste, poverty and food distribution. But, if simply obligating supermarket giants to pass unsold food to charities is not a magic solution to solve food waste (not only in France) it will address the wider worldwide issue of overproduction in the food industry as well as the wastage in food distribution chains.

If you are in the US and interested in being part of making a difference in your organization and industry, save money, and be profitable as well, contact us at REV or sign up for a personal 1:1 session to find ways you can contribute to the environmental impact.