Adrian, Leah and Mike were arrested in 2014 after scavenging seven trashbags containing expired food that had been disposed by the supermarket. During court proceedings the group’s defence claimed that the food was taken out of necessity, and that they would have gone hungry otherwise.
The trio, who identify as ‘freegans’, now face up to seven years jail time and a 100,000 Euro fine.
The prosecution of the group sparked outrage by many. In response to their trial the League of Human Rights organised a protest outside the court, in which they branded the case as “the criminalisation of poverty”. A petition also gathered almost 4,000 signatures calling for authorities to drop charges.
The case has also opened discussions in France about the ‘freegan’ lifestyle. The freegan movement emerged in the late 20th century as a response to global consumerism. Many freegans attempt to live lifestyles devoid of over-consumption, which includes things such as dumpster diving, ‘upcycling’ and squatting.
In many countries the laws regarding waste food are not clear-cut. In some countries removing food from a dumpster can be considered theft, trespass or even vandalism – while in others there is no law banning the practice.
Waste food, however, continues to be a pressing global issue. The United Nations claims that up to a third of food produced in the world goes to waste, while France alone estimates that supermarkets dispose of thousands of tonnes of edible food each year.