France, A Food Waste Reduction Leader

The Lempert Report
February 08, 2018

You could argue that French foods is among the best, but you can’t argue that France is the best at food waste

It was almost exactly two years ago that we reported that France legislated that supermarkets were prohibited from discarding unused foods. They can donate the food. 

These laws “make it the norm to reduce waste,” says Marie Mourad, a PhD student in sociology at Sciences Po in Paris who has authored several reports on French food waste. “France is not the country that wastes the least food, but they have become the most proactive because they want to be the exemplary country in Europe.” For perspective - only 11 percent of France’s 7.1 million metric tons of wasted food comes from supermarkets. 

France’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The country earned top ranking in the 2017 Food Sustainability Index, a survey of 25 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas conducted by the Economist and Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN). 

The people of France wasted 234 pounds of food per person annually, according to the BCFN report, which is drastically better than France’s international counterparts, compared to about 430 pounds per capita thrown away year in the United States. 

French National Assembly member Guillaume Garot helped frame the legislation with his previous experience as the former junior minister for the food industry – a position that in and of itself proves France’s dedication to the issue. 

 “Making it illegal for supermarkets to throw away food is massive,” says Jonathan Bloom, author of the book “American Wasteland.” “That legislative step has impacted all levels of the French food chain.” 

I know its not popular to say, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could pass the same law here in the US?