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The French government enacted a law on Wednesday making it mandatory for supermarkets in France to donate unwanted food to food banks or charities.
The petition was launched by local councilman Arash Derambarsh and was unanimously passed by the country’s senate, reports the Independent. The effort was reportedly campaigned by anti-poverty groups who were opposed to food waste. These groups are now hoping the rest of the EU follows suit with a similar law.
Fines of up to 75,000 euros ($83,700) or two years in prison will be incurred for those who violate the new law which applies to any supermarket that covers a minimum of 400 square meters of floor area.
It has been a practice of some local supermarkets to pour bleach over the discarded food or to lock them in warehouses to prevent foraging.
Jacques Bailet, head of Banques Alimentaires, a network of French food banks, told the The Guardian that “it would greatly increase an already emerging trend for supermarkets to donate to food banks.”
“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,” said Bailet.
The legislation is widely seen as simplifying a complicated process of donating directly to charity.
Each year over 7.8 million tons of food are wasted in France while 1.4 billion tons are wasted worldwide.