France Acts On Waste

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A dump site in Castries, France. By 2023, unwanted, unsold goods in the country will have to be donated, reused or recycled. Xavier Malafosse/Sipa, via Associated Press

Food waste has been a topic regularly featured in these pages. And reducing carbon footprint obviously involves reducing waste in general. Palko Karasz reports on this almost unbelievable example of waste that had escaped our attention until now, and we are impressed by France’s decisive action:

France to End Disposal of $900 Million in Unsold Goods Each Year

LONDON — France plans to outlaw the destruction of unsold consumer products, a practice that currently results in the disposal of new goods worth 800 million euros, or more than $900 million, in the country each year.

By 2023, manufacturers and retailers will have to donate, reuse or recycle the goods, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said on Tuesday of the measure, which the government billed as the first of its kind.

“It is waste that defies reason,” Mr. Philippe said at a discount store in Paris, according to Agence France-Presse, and he called the practice “scandalous.”

Under a new measure that will be part of a bill set to be debated by the government in July, destroying unsold goods could result in financial penalties or prison time.

The practice — widespread across the retail and consumer industry as a way to free up warehouse space or prevent unwanted items from being sold at a significant discount — has received bad press in France recently.

In January, Reporters for Capital, an investigative program on the French network M6, followed the path of brand-new unsold goods destined for disposal at the online retailer Amazon’s warehouse near the eastern town of Chalon-sur-Saône.

Plastic toys, a coffee maker and sealed packs of diapers were among the goods destined for destruction at the warehouse. Some were brought to waste-management facilities and destroyed, and others were taken to a landfill, the investigation found.

Amazon said on Twitter at the time that the company was striving “to reduce the number of products for which there was no other choice but destruction.” The company said that only a small fraction of its unsold goods were destroyed…

Read the whole article here.

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