This content is not available in your region

Hamburg wants to legalise 'dumpster diving' to cut food waste

Access to the comments Comments
By Alastair Jamieson
'Freecycling' or 'dumpster diving' for food waste is a crime in Germany
'Freecycling' or 'dumpster diving' for food waste is a crime in Germany   -   Copyright  Pixabay

The city of Hamburg wants to legalise taking food from garbage bins — sometimes called ‘dumpster diving’ or ‘freecycling’ — in an effort to reduce food waste.

Millions of tons of food are thrown away in Germany every year, much of it still edible yet past the ‘best before’ date used by shops.

Under German law, it is a criminal offence to take food from bins outside businesses such as supermarkets or factories, even if the food is still fit for human consumption.

Tim Steffen, senator of justice in Hamburg Senate and a member of the Green party, is calling for the law to be changed across the country.

“The time is overdue for better handling of food,” he tweeted. “It should not be the case that millions of tonnes are thrown away without consequences and, at the same time, people are being prosecuted. Decriminalize!”

He is bringing his proposal to a conference of regional justice ministers in the hope of changing the law at the federal level.

Steffen reportedly also wants to either clarify whether retailers should be banned from putting food in the bin. In France, which wastes only 1.8% of its food production, supermarkets are prohibited from throwing away edible food and must instead donate it to charities or food banks. A similar law applies in the Czech Republic.