What happens to the apples that no one buys at the grocery store?
You’ve been there: looking at apples (or other produce) and examining what’s in front of you before deciding on “the one.” The first apple you grabbed wasn’t ripe enough, and the second one had a weird shape. The third was too mushy. But that last one? It was perfect. Into the cart and on you go.
But what happens to the apples and the other food you didn’t buy — and no one else did either? Too often, that perfectly good, unsold food ends up in the trash.
That’ll soon be changing in France.
France just passed a bipartisan bill that bans grocery stores from throwing out unsold food.
Instead of discarding food items that are approaching their sell-by date, French supermarkets will be required to donate the food to charities or to turn it into animal feed or compost.
On the heels of the Paris climate change agreement, France is hoping to find a solution that helps the hungry while also helping the environment.
Many families in the world struggle to find food to eat. France is said to throw away almost 8 million tons of food every year, and grocery stores are a big contributor. Between people being picky about the aesthetics of their food, overstocked shelves at the store, and sell-by dates that don’t actually mean that much, there is room to explore how to keep more food in tummies and less in the landfill.
“Today, when a supermarket like Carrefour finds even a tiny fault with a crate of its branded yogurts, it sends the whole batch back to the dairy producer, which is legally obliged to destroy the lot even if it is all of excellent quality,” Guillaume Garot, one of the legislators who framed the law, told the Telegraph.
The law, which passed on Dec. 10, 2015, will make it possible for charities to have access to more edible food, like crates of yogurts, that would otherwise be destroyed. It’ll target stores with retail space of over 4,300 square feet (so … big ones) and is expected to go into effect once the Senate votes on it in early 2016.
The initiative won’t just feed people. It’ll also make the environment happier.
According to the United Nations, if wasted food became its own country, it would be the #3 contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the entire world. That’s pretty wild when you think about it. Throwing away leftovers or seeing food in a grocery store’s dumpster doesn’t seem like that big of a deal until you see what it’s doing on a global scale.
The United States should take note: We waste enough food to fill a 90,000-seat football stadium every single day.
Yes, just let your head wrap around that for a second.
We’re throwing away more than one-third of all the food that’s produced in the country every year. Consumers do play the biggest part in that food waste, but grocery stores are responsible for throwing away 10% of it. We’re using as many tricks as possible to reduce the waste, but there’s more that can be done.
France is setting a strong example of legislators from both sides of the aisle working together to solve some of the biggest issues of our time.
It’s easy to think of many world issues as separate, but that’s not always the case. The connections between hunger, poverty, food waste, and climate change show that simple solutions can be found all over — even in an apple bin.