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Latest update : 2014-05-29

Food waste: Hard to digest

Imagine all the food produced each year and then consider that one third of it is either lost or goes to waste. At the same time, 870 million people go hungry each day. It’s a paradox found in both rich and poor countries and one that the EU is tackling head-on by deeming 2014 the European year against food waste.

This week we head to the community of Herstal in Belgium to meet a mayor who has vowed to stop food being thrown out in his municipality.

In 2012, Frédéric Daerdan implemented a regulation which obliged all supermarkets to donate their unsold, edible food to charitable associations. Despite pockets of resistance from stores which find the rule difficult to administer, there’s now talk of turning the idea into legislation which would apply to more than 5,000 supermarkets in the region of Wallonia.

In most of the rest of Europe, the rules are more flexible. In France, supermarkets are encouraged but not obliged to donate their food. As a result, tons of edible food end up in supermarkets’ rubbish bins every day. We demonstrate the extent of this waste by taking part in a trend known as dumpster diving, which is led by people who prove it’s possible to live comfortably using only discarded food.

By Mairead DUNDAS , Marina BERTSCH , Marie SCHUSTER , Juliette LACHARNAY , Anna-Gaëlle Brault

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