Nearly two years ago a law was introduced in France in which supermarkets were prohibited from destroying any unsold, edible food products. The law obliges the retailers to sign contracts with charities agreeing terms for regular donation of the unsold produce. Penalties of up to 75,000 Euros and even facing up to two years in prison ensured supermarkets were quick to put deals in place with charities, however would this be an effective way of dealing with food waste in Scotland?
Under existing regulations supermarkets have to ensure their food is either composted (with compost being produced) or an Anaerobic Digestion (AD) process (produces digestate (a liquid land fertilizer) and energy in the form of methane gas). So at moment it is not ideal that food is being wasted but, due to the cost of treatment, there is a financial incentive for supermarkets to try and minimise the food waste generated. If they are simply allowed to give the waste away for free is that not simply shifting the responsibility away from them and onto the charities, which will then have excess material and will end up having to pay the disposal costs? This therefore raises questions whether charities would have the infrastructure and be equipped for the storage and distribution of this amount of food, or whether it would become a burden for these organisations?
Yes charities can make good use of the “free” food, but will they not just end up being a free disposal outlet for supermarkets?