This past October 16th, France celebrated its second annual ‘Day against Food Waste’ as part of the National Pact against Food Waste. Stéphane Le Foll, French minister French Minister for Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry, designated fighting food waste as one of the four fundamental priorities of the new Public Food Policy. In addition to “no waste” challenges in eating establishments and heightened awareness across the country, the second ‘day against food waste’ included a public reporting of French progress along with the announcement of new additions to the national initiative.
What’s new this year?
A year and a half after the Pact against Food Waste was formed, five of the eleven commitments have already been completed, and the remaining six are all underway. This October, Minister Stéphane Le Foll presented the most exemplary candidates with awards for their superior contributions toward the fight in the following categories: Agricultural production, Group Catering, Distribution, the Agrifood Industry, Education, Community and Territorial Services, Associations and Citizens. Each category represents a group of influential stakeholders within the food industry who can collectively make a positive impact through better waste reduction measures.
But households are still responsible for the most amount of food waste. The Ministry of Agriculture has therefore launched a new digital campaign targeting the individual. Online advertisements mixing wordplay and iconic cultural references aim to remind the French people of the real costs associated with personal waste. The goal isn’t to cast blame, but to remind and make aware. The three new ad schemes put a conceptual price tag on what most would consider to have no value: the trash can. When accounting for the 40-60 lbs of average annual waste per person, the trash can of a family of four consumes more than €400 ($500) worth of food year. Thus the slogan “my trash can is rich” evokes the idea that it’s the trash can that reaps the benefits from consumer irresponsibility.
Finally, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) revealed the results of their published research study involving 20 families who adopted stringent scruples with regard to food preservation. ADEME showed that higher vigilance and sound preservation practices led to around a 50% reduction in waste. The most important changes an individual or family can make are: paying more attention to the expiration dates on promotion items in stores, storing items according to these dates, and utilizing the freezer for leftovers.