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.