Why France is killing it when it comes to tackling waste


Over the last few years, much of the trailblazing, waste-busting progress against Food Waste in Europe has been taking place across the Channel in France, from impactful legislation changes to quirky campaigns and dancing (yes, dancing). Sacré bleu!

They have just banned plastic cups, plates and cutlery

4.73 billion plastic cups are currently thrown away in France every year, with only 1 percent being recycled. Very recently, France have boldly passed a new law which ensures all plastic cups, plates and cutlery have to be made of biologically-sourced materials, that can be composted. The law, which comes into effect in 2020, is part of the Energy Transition for Green Growth — an ambitious plan that hopes to make France a leading contributor to tackling climate change. We’ll raise our biologically-sourced cup to that!

They launched this memorable campaign…

France was one of the first nations to express their love for the wonky légume. Back in 2014, the third largest supermarket chain in France, Intermarché, launched their memorable ‘Inglorious’ fruits and vegetables campaign. To help reduce ‘cosmetic’ food waste, Intermarché sold scarred, disfigured and odd-shaped fruits and vegetables for 30 per cent less than ‘normal-looking’ produce. On the back of their playful marketing and waste-conscious campaign, many supermarkets all over the world followed suit and wonky veg has been the unlikely pin-up of food waste ever since.

They were the first country in the world…

…to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them to donate to food banks and charities instead. The law was a result of a grassroots campaign launched by councillor, Arash Derambarsh. After his petition gained more than 200,000 signatures and celebrity support in just four months, he managed to persuade French MP’s to adopt the regulation, which is now being copied in different parts of the world. Since the ban has been in place, over 300,000 tonnes of food has been saved from landfill and redistributed to France’s three networks of food banks. Très bon!

They embrace ‘les sacs de chien’

Although many French restaurants have turned their nose up at the notion of the ‘doggy bag’ in the past, a new passing of a legislation means they are legally obliged to provide them to diners (but hope to rebrand them as ‘gourmet bags’). According to government figures, the French restaurant industry alone accounts for some one million tonnes of food waste annually, so it’s certainly time to bag it up.

They are D-I-S-C-O!

Let’s not forget France’s most shimmering, sequin-laden, food-saving exports: Disco Soupe! Disco Soupe (or disco soup) has captured the imagination of the world, proving to be one of the most fun events out there, while reducing food waste. Strangers collide, music spins, food is saved from the clutches of the bin, chopped to the beat and eaten with rhythm. It’s a boogie, foodie wonderland!

Bravo France. Au revoir waste.

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