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HARD TO SWALLOW

The man behind France’s ban on supermarket waste says he wants the rest of the world to follow suit

An 87-year-old retired Frenchman searches for food.
Reuters/Eric Gaillard
An 87-year-old man searches for food outside a supermarket in Nice.
  • Cassie Werber
By Cassie Werber

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Last week the French national assembly voted to ban French supermarkets from throwing away edible food. Now, the politician spearheading the movement to stop food waste in France wants other countries to follow suit.

Arash Derambarsh, a councilor in northwest Paris, told the Guardian that he hopes to spark a revolution in which the global population stops throwing away a third of the food it produces, and starts using it to feed the hungry.

He recalled what it was like to go hungry as a struggling student in Paris, he said. His campaign began with saving and distributing food from a local supermarket, and grew into a petition with over 200,000 signatures—and then the change in French law.

He now wants to bring the issue to the attention of the G20 economic summit, to be held in Turkey in November, and the COP21 environment conference in Paris in December, he told the paper.

Here are some statistics he’ll likely cite:

  • Of all the food produced globally, 1.3 billion tons is wasted. That’s a third of the total grown, reared, and harvested, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • North America and Oceania waste the most food (pdf), almost 300 kilograms (660 pounds) per person per year. Europe comes second, and industrialized Asia third.
  • In Europe, the UK is the most wasteful nation, followed by Germany, the Netherlands, and France.
  • Around the world, 842 million people (pdf, p.36) still go hungry, around 12% of the global population in 2014.

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