France is now the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, instead directing leftover food to be donated to charities and food banks throughout the country.

According to the ABC, the French senate passed a law unanimously to be implemented by Wednesday in which large shops will no longer be able to put good quality food in the bin when it is approaching its best-before date.

As a result, charities will be able to give out millions more free meals each year to people struggling to afford to eat.

A grassroots campaign by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners and others opposed to food waste throughout France has been instrumental in bringing this law into existence.  The campaign, started by the councillor Arash Derambarsh, led to a parliamentary petition.  

In December a bill on the issue passed through the national assembly, having been introduced by the former food industry minister Guillaume Garot.  The law has now been successfully passed in France.

Campaigners now hope to persuade the EU to adopt similar legislation across member states.

In recent years, growing numbers of families, students, unemployed and homeless people in France have been foraging in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves. The new law has been welcomed by food banks throughout France, who hope it will help people struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Jacques Bailet, head of Banques Alimentaires, a network of French food banks, described the law as important in assisting the whole country to eat well.

“Most importantly, because supermarkets will be obliged to sign a donation deal with charities, we’ll be able to increase the quality and diversity of food we get and distribute,” he said. “In terms of nutritional balance, we currently have a deficit of meat and a lack of fruit and vegetables. This will hopefully allow us to push for those products.”

The ABC reports that until now French food banks received 100,000 tonnes of donated goods, 35,000 tonnes of which came from supermarkets. Even a 15% increase in food coming from supermarkets would mean 10m more meals being handed out each year.


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  • oh wow! that is really good! i wish that we would follow suit


  • Glad that it goes to good use rather then been wasted. It also prevents dumpster diving.


  • This is a great initiative, and I hope it becomes more wide spread than just France. We really need a service like that here. This will help a lot of people in need and minimise a lot of waste.


  • I think this is such a great idea. So much food gets wasted why not put it to good use. Lots of vegetables close to expiry can be used in soups, curries, hot pots etc . then frozen into meal portions and stored for a few months.


  • Years ago our local bakery used to donate all the left over bread to our local church for low income families. It was wonderful and helped out many families. Then they found out that one family had scammed the church and they were not in anyway having money issues…the guy went into the store and told them that he didnt have to buy their bread anymore because he got it free through the church. The bakery removed their support of the church and instead dumped the bread. It was heartbreaking.


  • Some supermarkets in SA already donate food to charities. Some suppliers also donate short coded stock to charities. Some are reluctant in case it goes off too soon afterwards and they get accused of making somebody sick.


  • That is great news. I hope Australia follows suit.


  • Well done France on leading the way. Other countries should follow suit.


  • Fantastic idea – hopefully it will catch on here to a greater degree than what is presently happening. Wish there was some way to stop all the waste from private homes as well.


  • This is a great idea. I think it is much needed.


  • A great initiative; hope Australia follows suit.


  • This is just common sense. Thank goodness food will not be wasted needlessly.


  • What a wonderful idea! If only every more countries did this.


  • This is a great idea – but some charities will need extra resources in order to use the food.

    • Hopefully volunteers will step up as needed.


  • It will be interesting to see how this initiative plays out. Food wastage is a world wide problem.


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