The destruction of unsold consumable food by businesses at the end of the day or the week is a reality in many countries. Some of them, have taken steps to stop such practices. Here we explore the case of France.
Food waste comes from multiple sources such as food scraps (from kitchens), expired food, unsold/unused food. The latter represents a real challenge on an economical, environmental, and moral ground. Economical because it is a direct loss for businesses or individuals. Environmental because it does contribute to the depletion of the resources. Moral because food insecurity is a reality in every country, including Singapore, and it is hardly acceptable to destroy consumable food when only a few kilometers away families struggle to meet basic needs. Several countries have implemented incentives for businesses to donate food such as tax rebates. One of them, France, went a step ahead: forbidding companies from throwing away consumable food.
Here we will briefly present three separate laws known as:
- Loi Aillagon (2003)
- Loi Garot (2016)
- Loi Egalim (2018)
Loi Aillagon (2003)
Loi Aillagon introduced tax rebate to businesses for in-kind donation, including food donations. Loi n° 2003-709 du 1er août 2003 relative au mécénat, aux associations et aux fondations https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000000791289&categorieLien=id
In a nutshell, the law states that companies can make monetary or in-kind donation to approved organisation and claim up to 60% of the value of the donation up to 0.5% of the annual gross profit.
For food donation, the value of the donation is equal to the production cost of the food. https://bofip.impots.gouv.fr/bofip/6495-PGP
Introduced 17 years ago, this law triggered the development of redistribution of unsold food products to organisations. Several companies were created to facilitate the distribution of those goods among NGOs while ensuring food safety standards.
Loi Garot (2016)
Loi Garot introduced a new regulation for businesses selling food: obligation to redistribute unsold goods. LOI n° 2016-138 du 11 février 2016 relative à la lutte contre le gaspillage alimentaire (1) https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000032036289&categorieLien=id
In a nutshell, the law states that food distributors are responsible for the management of the food goods and must take steps to reduce wastage as per the following hierarchy:
- Prevent food wastage
- Make use of unsold food goods by in-kind donation or transformation into another food product.
- Use unsold food products as animal feed
- Recycle food waste into compost for agriculture purpose or energy production such as anaerobic digestion.
If a food distributor voluntarily damages consumable goods, so they cannot be consumed anymore, it can be fined 3,750 euros (~S$5,900).
All food retailers with an area of more than 400 m2 must establish an agreement with one or more organisation describing the process for giving away unsold food products for free. No respect of this condition can lead to a fine of 450 euros (~S$700). This penalty has since been increased to 1,500 euros (~S$2,400) in 2020.
Loi Egalim (2018)
Loi Egalim is not specific to food donation and covers a wide scope of activities in the food industry. LOI n° 2018-938 du 30 octobre 2018 pour l’équilibre des relations commerciales dans le secteur agricole et alimentaire et une alimentation saine, durable et accessible à tous (1) https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000037547946&categorieLien=id
This law adds a few details to the 2016 Garot law. One of the main changes, is the obligation for food retailers to assign a person responsible for the implementation of a plan to ensure the quality of food donation and for the communication with the beneficiary organisation. Moreover, food wastage must be a metric in the annual CSR reporting of the business.
Review of the law
The ban on destruction of unsold food products has been enforced for 4 years. As part of the review of the law and in preparation to the implementation of the European Directive on circular economy, the French Parliament conducted an in-depth review of the law and its application. The report is freely available with the link below. The study made a series of recommendation which have been taken into account into the 2020 law of circular economy. One of the recommendations is the need for additional controls and stricter penalties.
Rapport N° 2025 – ASSEMBLÉE NATIONALE CONSTITUTION DU 4 OCTOBRE 1958 QUINZIÈME LÉGISLATURE Enregistré à la Présidence de l’Assemblée nationale le 12 juin 2019. RAPPORT D’INFORMATION DÉPOSÉ en application de l’article 145-7 du Règlement PAR LA COMMISSION DES AFFAIRES ÉCONOMIQUES sur l’évaluation de la loi n° 2016-138 du 11 février 2016 relative à la lutte contre le gaspillage alimentaire http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/dyn/15/rapports/cion-eco/l15b2025_rapport-information
Food waste is one of the main waste streams in Singapore. Such laws to incentivise food donation and eventually ban the destruction of food products should be highly considered. Note that food waste management is one of the key items of the Singapore Zero Waste Masterplan.
Although there is no plan around tax rebate for food donation, Singapore, via the Resource Sustainability Act, will enforce the food waste segregation from large facilities. It is hopeful, that this forced segregation will lead to a better management of food products. More details here: https://www.nea.gov.sg/our-services/waste-management/3r-programmes-and-resources/food-waste-management