I propose a law.
This law is quite simple – it becomes effectively illegal (with fines) to destroy large quantities of goods, i.e. foods, consumer products or raw materials. Even if thede articles are your property, and the interpretation of ‘destruction’ should be as wide as possible. I realize such a law would be easily gamed, but it would be a start. Furthermore such a law would force a producer to take redundant, broken, outdated or slightly damaged goods and offer them on a free market. It would be illegal to intentionally treat these products as to make them unsuitable for such sale.
In essence this law would (or should) force supermarkets or farmers to offer produce, articles or foods on a ‘reduced price’ market, and take minimum reasonable actions to avoid redundancy. An example – lettuce would be shelved in a supermarket at price ranges based on freshness. Let’s say these prod8ucts lasts between 5 and 10 days before it becomes unsuitable for consumption. So why not batch these products in ranges based on how fresh they are, with a price for each?
Right now supermarkets destroy products to make dumpster diving impossible. Aside from the social stigma, dumpster divig should not be necessary – it is a stigmatizing and dehumanizing activity and it is dangerous and unhealthy. Supemarkets in some southern European countries have been known to poison or contaminate the discarded foodstuffs to chase away the scavenging poor or freegan. I know my supermarkets nearby intentionally throw a special stinking chemical die created specifically for this purpose over discarded products, and then and go and lock the plastic bins in which these are discarded. Years ago these products were recycled for animal feed, but they even stopped doing that because it was such a hassle to unwrap the packaging and because these supermarkets discovered that a sizeable percentage of, say, cookies and other products over date still found their way to human consumers.
When these products are not destroyed, supermarkets face competition and less demand from consumers. So supermarkets (who claim they operate at relatively low profit margins) go as far as export surplus, damaged, unsafe, over date and otherwise imperfect products to third world countries, all to avoid reducing margins in the most highly revenue generating countries.
As a side note – I tried discussing the reverse option – going with a van to an eastern European country, filling it up with low priced goods (prices in Romania can be as low as a third of prices in the western Europe) and then driving it all back would be quite effective in reducing consumer expenses. It would also be opposed, using health code violations, drug laws, migrant laws as an excuse to make it nearly impossible. There is a clear link between the interests of Supermarkets and attempts to bring cheaper products in western European markets in substantial amounts. There is some indication law enforcement and politics have been co-opted by these commercial sectors as to protect their interests. But we’d have to check this in the field.
The point is that in any society no group should conspire to waste, create monopolies or be deceitful about fair prices or product quality. That’s why we have laws – to ward off thinks that are clearly bad. And we should then have sensible laws that do not produce all kinds of unintended consequences.
If we are to do both, I strongly advocate for laws that effectively hold all producers in my country to not waste. These producers will hate such laws but their interests are clearly not mine. They want a profit – I on the other hand can not abide wastefulness of collective global resources and energy.