Bébé steps: France implements small changes in quest for sustainability

Bébé steps: France implements small changes in quest for sustainability

Adopting sustainable practices is a noble and modern idea which individuals and businesses constantly seek in order to better themselves and the environment. It is now a new idea in terms of bettering an entire nation.


France has begun to promote sustainability on a nationwide scale. The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass a new law which battles the food waste epidemic plaguing the country.


This law makes it illegal for French supermarkets to throw away or destroy unused food.  Prior to this, many supermarkets were known to pour bleach into waste bins locked inside warehouses to prevent scavengers from digging through food waste. It is now required that all edible food be donated to charities or used for animal food or farming compost.


People in France searching through dumpsters for food.

Supermarkets and other food-based stores pour bleach into their dumpsters to prevent people from digging for food. (blogs.reuters.com)

This positive step towards sustainability has been met with some criticism. Critics believe that the law runs the risk of belittling issues of hunger and waste. They fear that it suggests that this single piece of legislation can solve these problems altogether, when in reality, only about 5 percent of food waste comes from supermarkets. The majority comes from consumers.


These reactions, however, pose a more serious threat to finding a lasting solution. Any reluctance to implementing any policy, big or small, may lead to no change at all as opposed to a potential partial change.


Critics are assuming that France is suggesting a “magic solution,” when instead it is demonstrating through a practical approach that this issue is not one that can be fixed overnight.


France’s latest piece of legislation is a step in the right direction. Moreover, this decision is not a singular effort, but actually part of a series of steps that France has taken in a greater quest for sustainability. In February, the nation passed a measure requiring stores to remove the best-before dates on fresh foods. This measure will be supplemented with the introduction of food waste education programs to schools and businesses.


These changes are helping France build a reputation as a nation concerned with sustainability and social responsibility that other nations would be wise to emulate.


Do you believe this new law is an important step in addressing food waste in France? What do you think would be an effective next step for the nation in minimizing food waste? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi.

Tamara Rahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi is a third-culture kid of Egyptian descent who was born and raised in New Jersey. She loves experiencing new things, and is in a constant state of wanderlust. She has spent a year studying in Switzerland and another teaching in Albania. Tamara graduated from Rutgers University, where she studied political science and cultural anthropology. She reports on a variety of stories for MUIPR. Follow Tamara on twitter @tamarahoumi.

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