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Measures relating to wastage in the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law

Analysis of the measures in the combat against food and non-food wastage


The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law complements the existing measures in the combat against food wastage and introduces new ones for non-food products.

Reinforcement of measures to combat food wastage

L. 541-15-4 of the Environmental Code is firstly modified to specify that "any food intended for human consumption which, at any stage of the food chain, is lost, thrown away or degraded, constitutes food wastage. "

The means of action provided for by Law no. 2016-138 of 11 February 2016 on the combat against food wastage are reinforced in order to combat it more effectively.

Reinforcement of the penalty incurred in the event of the destruction of consumable food

Article L. 541-47 of the Environmental Code initially prohibited distributors in the food sector, operators in the agrifood industry producing foodstuffs that can be delivered as is to a food retailer, and mass catering operators to make their unsold but still consumable food unfit for human consumption or recovery. In the event of non-compliance with this prohibition, they were liable to a fine of 3,750 euros.

The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law modified this legislation in order to:

  • extend the aforementioned prohibition to wholesale traders;
  • increase the amount of the fine, which may "reach a maximum amount of 0.1% of turnover excluding tax for the last financial year ended" which "is proportionate to the seriousness of the findings, and in particular the number and the volume of infringing products."

Extension of the obligation to enter into an agreement with associations combating precariousness 

As a reminder, Article L. 541-15-6 of the Environmental Code regulates the donation of foodstuffs by providing the obligation, for certain persons, to enter into an agreement for the donation of foodstuffs with an association combating precariousness, these associations also having the task of ensuring the quality of donations and putting in place procedures to monitor and check the quality of these donations.

This obligation, which initially targeted, beyond certain thresholds, food retailers, operators in the agri-food industry and mass catering operators also now applies to "wholesale food business operators whose annual turnover is over fifty million euros.”

Other obligations intended to avoid food wastage

From 1 January 2021, agri-food industry operators will have to put in place an initiative to combat food wastage including a self-diagnosis.

Finally, from 1 January 2022, some information (best before date, batch number, etc.) may be incorporated into the information codifications for foodstuff to enable computer processing of stocks (Article L. 541-15-14 of the Environmental Code).

Creation of a system to combat non-food wastage 

Until now, non-food wastage suffered from the absence of a legal framework, which the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law attempts to remedy: an Article L. 541-15-8 has therefore been created within the Environmental Code establishing aprinciple of prohibition on the disposal of unsold new non-food items.

The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law thus imposes the reuse (in particular by donating products regarded as basic necessities to associations and social and solidarity economy structures), the further use or recycling of unsold new non-food products intended for sale, in compliance with the hierarchy of processing methods [preparation for further use > recycling > any other recovery, in particular energy recovery> disposal].

This obligation will be imposed on producers and distributors of these products, who will also be required to contribute to the storage costs of the unsold products donated.

A specific reuse obligation is introduced for unsold hygiene and childcare products.

These new provisions will in principle come into force on a date set by decree based on the time required to set up reuse, further use or recycling schemes adapted to the products concerned, but at the latest on 1 January 2022 for the schemes already subject to EPR  and no later than 31 December 2023 in other cases. It is expected that this decree, or at least guidelines, will clarify the scope of this new obligation.

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Read more: Reinforcement and extension of the extended producer responsibility

Note that the obligation will however not apply "as long as" the conditions necessary to achieve reuse, further use or recycling do not meet the sustainable development objective of the Environmental Code. This is a potentially serious restriction on the application of the new legislation.

Introduction of "encouraged" business practice 

The Consumer Code now includes, alongside prohibited or regulated business practices, "encouraged" business practices. The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law thus not only makes possible the sale without packaging or "bulk", but it regulates the conditions under which the consumer can ask to be served in the container that they themselves provided.

In general, the consumer is encouraged to bring reusable or recyclable containers to the places of purchase or where they consume on site or take away food (Articles 41 et seq. of the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law).

Measures relating to advertising 

In terms of form, the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law contains several measures aimed at restricting the distribution of advertising leaflets, imposing the printing of advertising brochures and catalogues intended for consumers on recycled paper or even prohibiting the printing and systematic distribution of receipts.

In terms of content, the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law prohibits all advertising aimed at promoting the disposal of products that is not accompanied by an encouragement to further use or recycle. Likewise, any advertising encouraging the degradation of products and prevention of their reuse or further use is now prohibited.

New constraints on public purchases

From 1 January 2021, in their public purchases, State and local authority departments must:

  • as far as possible, reduce the consumption of singleuse plastics and the production of waste and give priority to goods from reuse or which incorporate recycled materials by providing clauses and useful criteria in the specifications;
  • ensure that the goods acquired annually come from reuse or further use or incorporate recycled materials in proportions of 20% to 100% depending on the type of product. This obligation will be specified by decree..

Restrictions on repair or repackaging 

To the ban on planned obsolescence (introduced by Law no. 2015-992 of 17 August 2015 on the energy transition) are added new prohibitions covering:

  • The implementation of techniques, including software, aimed at making it impossible to repair or repackage a device outside the approved circuit;
  • Restrictions of repair professionals' access to spare parts, technical information or equipment enabling the repair of products.

Related topic:

Anti-Wastage and Circular Economy Law

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