Britain's Largest Grocer Is Giving Unsold Food To Those Who Need It

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 20:  Shoppers peruse items on sale in the Tesco Extra superstore on April 20, 2009 in New Malden, Sur
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 20: Shoppers peruse items on sale in the Tesco Extra superstore on April 20, 2009 in New Malden, Surrey, England. The huge New Malden store has the highest weekly turnover of all of Tesco's stores and sells products as diverse as; phones, clothing, electrical goods, books as well as food and includes an in-store Starbucks coffee shop. It is expected that Tesco's annual results, due to be announced tomorrow, will show that the company had sales of £53 billion for the past 12 months, a record for a British retailer. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Food waste is becoming less and less acceptable in Western Europe.

Just days after France's parliament voted to stop big grocers from wasting food -- which will lead to the businesses giving to charities or farms instead -- Britain's largest supermarket chain is enacting a plan for a handful of its stores to give away unsold food to nonprofit organizations, Reuters reported.

In 10 of its U.K. stores, Tesco will be giving away food it otherwise would dispose of to women's refuge centers and children breakfast clubs. The move will help curb the massive amount of food wasted globally each year -- a problem that allows widespread hunger to persist.

According to the World Food Program, about 805 million people don't consume enough food to lead a healthy, active life. If the amount of food wasted each year -- 1.3 billion tons -- was just cut in half, everyone would be fed, as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted last October.

Rich countries don't have the best track record when it comes to curbing food waste. They throw out almost as much food as the total amount of food produced in sub-Saharan Africa.

And the lasting effects go beyond bottom lines.

"The impact of food waste is not just financial," as the United Nations Environment Program points out. "Environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food, creating more methane – one of the most harmful greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change."

Tesco, however, plans on doing its part to solve the problem. Its new initiative could be the start of a much bigger strategy by the chain.

"This is potentially the biggest single step we've taken to cut food waste," said Dave Lewis, Tesco chief executive, according to Reuters. "We hope it marks the start of eliminating the need to throw away edible food in our stores."

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