Thanks to proactive measures put in place to curb food waste, France now ranks #1 in the world when it comes to food sustainability. In 2016, France became the first country in the world to require supermarkets to donate unsold food to charity, and for restaurants to provide doggy bags when requested – or be subject to fines of up to €75,000 ($82,324) and two years in jail.

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The Economist Intelligence Unit graded 34 nations based on food waste, environment-friendly agriculture, and quality nutrition as part of a newly launched Food Sustainability Index. Several other European countries broke the top five, including Germany, Spain, and Sweden, while Japan ranked second. Despite being a highly developed country (high-income countries tend to rank better) the U.S. sits in a much less desirable 21st place, thanks to its over-consumption of meat, sugar, and saturated fats. Poor management of soil and fertilizer in agriculture were additional reasons it was downgraded further.

Related: Study finds that cutting food waste could feed one billion hungry people

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Interestingly, the very wealthy United Arab Emirates ranked last. Food waste in the country is nearly 1,000 kilos (2,205 lbs) per person per annum. The UAE is experiencing an increase in obesity rates and an agriculture sector that is straining water supplies.

Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, called the waste “unethical and immoral” in a statement, especially since hundreds of millions of people go hungry each day. According to Reuters, 815 million people are afflicted by global hunger, which is more than one in 10 persons on the planet.

Food waste also produces incredible amounts of greenhouse gases in landfills, making it the third largest source of emissions after China and the U.S.

As Inhabitat previously reported, over 1.4 billion tons of food is thrown out across the globe each year, which the World Bank estimates to be between one-quarter and one-third of all food produced. In France alone, 7.1 million tons were being trashed before the 2016 food waste bill was passed. Now it loses just 1.8 percent of its total food production annually, and there are plans to half that figure by 2025.

Via Reuters

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