France is to pass legislation banning supermarkets and producers from destroying unsold non-food items in a “world first”, according to Edouard Philippe, the prime minister.
France has already enacted a law banning supermarkets from destroying unsold food, and obliging supermarkets to hand it to charity, but the government wishes to extend the ban to clothing, electronics or plastics, and other products.
Some €650 million (£576m) worth of unsold non-food items are thrown away or destroyed every year in France. "We can avoid the scandalous waste of products and objects that are in perfectly good condition,” said Mr Philippe.
France’s main supermarket chains Casino , Carrefour, Auchan and Leclerc would have to hand over the unsold products to charities or recycle them, he added.
Mr Philippe’s office said the new legislation – part of a “circular economy law” due to pass through parliament in July – would come into force by late 2021 or 2023 depending on the sector.
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Single-use plastic items such as straws, forks and knives as well as cotton buds are due to be banned in the European Union by 2021.
Last month, Carrefour and waste recycling company TerraCycle launched an initiative to tackle the problems of plastic waste threatening to destroy the environment.
The draft legislation also includes plans to create a “repairability index” for products, among other measures.
It comes as President Emmanuel Macron is seeking to burnish his green credentials after being accused of green washing by a former environment minister who quit the government last autumn.
The environment was a top priority in his party’s manifesto for last month’s European elections, in which it finished second just behind the far-Right.
But he failed to stop 20 per cent of people who voted for him in the first round of the 2017 presidential elections from voting for the Greens, who came a surprise third.