Closing the French Food Loop

Closing the French Food Loop

In many parts of the world, specifically the most developed nations, there is an ongoing problem regarding how to effectively deal with food waste. However, France’s parliament is leading the way in making this a problem of the past. 


In 2016, France’s parliament unanimously passed a bill stating that supermarkets must donate their leftover edible food to one of France’s 5,000 charities that depend on donations or face large monetary penalties. Since its adoption nearly 2 years ago, France has seen progress in the resolution of issues with food waste, but has not quite solved the problem. According to a 2017 study, approximately one year after the bill had been implemented, in Isère, less than 24% of excess food went to charities.

While there are many possible reasons behind this lack of effectiveness, it is important to remember this is a  new bill and is the first of its kind and officials are looking into ways to improve the outcomes of the ruling in future years. However, despite the less than thrilling results, there was still a significant portion of food donated to charities compared to the 66 pounds of food per person that is wasted each year in France.  Jacques Bailet, head of Banques Alimentaires recently stated in an NPR interview that “There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away.” 

"Before the 2016 law, French supermarkets typically donated 35,000 metric tons of food annually" stated Jacques Bailet, president of the food bank network Banques Alimentaires.  This law improves not only the quantity of donated food, say experts, but also the quality. Food banks typically are supplied with canned goods, rather than nutritionally valuable foods like meat, vegetables, and fruit.

As the law continues to be revamped, officials are hopeful that, in the future, the percentage of donated food will rise and a new perspective on food waste will come along with it. Ideally, this would be throughout the country of France and across the entire developed world. 

We hope you've enjoyed learning about how the French parliament is working on Closing the French Food Loop! What other steps do you think governments can take to reduce food waste? Comment below!