©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr

Two important changes recently took place in France as part of its efforts to reduce food waste. Starting January 1st, 2016, all restaurants with more than 10 tons of annual food waste (which equals about 240 meals per day) are required to sort biodegradable food waste that can then be used in composting or the creation of biofuels. The requirement started in 2015 with a 20-ton limit and was cut in half for the start of 2016 to cover significantly more restaurants.

This allows for any food that doesn’t get eaten to not go to waste and to be used for another purpose – instead of just ending up in a landfill if nothing was done with it.
The other major development is that doggy bags are now “strongly recommended” for restaurants across France by the Union of Careers and Industries of Hotels and Restaurants, which has created a partnership with a startup doggy bag company to provide easy access to doggy bags to restaurants.

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The bags are well-designed and can be personalized by each of the restaurants. The company and others like it also provide signage to be placed in the restaurant to inform people that the bags are available. The Union also strongly recommends restaurant employees to offer to bag any food that doesn’t get eaten to make sure that people know it’s a possibility.

While the practice of taking unconsumed food home with you after a meal at a restaurant is quite common in the United States and some other countries, it’s not quite caught on yet in France. The French government, major food industry representatives and other groups signed a pact in 2013 aiming to reduce the level of French food waste by 50% by 2025. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that roughly 10 million tons of food is wasted in France each year, including 1.2 million tons of food that’s still edible and 1.5 million tons by the restaurant industry.