Next month, a man stands trial after the CPS ruled which pressing charges was very much in the public’s interest. Why is he in this situation? He took a handful of food from a skip behind a branch of the Iceland supermarket.
Every day vast amounts of food pass the sell by date and are then thrown into the bin. 5.3 million tons of food get treated this way in Britain every year. To put that into context, this the equivalent weight of 5 million cars, or 10 million horses. When a product goes past its sell by date, it is usually thrown in a bin outside the shop. Many of these bins have release systems intended to keep out scavengers such as urban foxes, mice and rats. Yet a fair amount of food is poached from them on a nightly basis, particularly in densely populated areas. The bins have been designed to thwart animals; however, it’s humans may likely to be found nabbing bits and pieces from them.
“Bin-dipping,” as its known, is a phenomenon which has been going on for centuries. In the past, there were always extras leftover in the affluent or indulgent communities, and many peasants might take the excess from their masters’ scraps when they were able to. In 1877, a legal precedent concerning pigs was set, although the legality of the challenge remains thorny today, hence the interest in this case.
Shops may turn a blind eye to it on the basis of common sense. After all, if the contents of their bin are going to a healthy cause, it may be better than if they were filling up another rubbish site. A growing number of people are joining the so-called Freegan movement, which carefully sounds out businesses for their opinions on bin dipping before they act. They work with local branches of chain stores and with small shops to ensure both parties agree on recycling the food.
The amount of publicity surrounding this case may well see the stirrings of greater changes, however. There has been considerable support for the man, and many are beginning to question the exact nature of the supermarket’s role in the supply of food. Calls for greater amounts of responsibility and tighter regulations have been sounded from the majority of national newspapers. Online communities, ranging from liberal forums to the traditionally conservative Mumsnet, have backed the actions of Freegans and pledged their support to the cause.
This may well progress at a rapid rate. There had been rumors of horse meat in the supply chains for years; however, public awareness swiftly dealt with it in a matter of days. Carbon footprints, air miles, organic, fair-trade, are all changes the consumer has brought forth with its considerable power. Now this situation has been brought into the public consciousness, there may be a healthy chance the public may see large-scale changes in the industry to meet increased demands for ethical stock management.
More importantly, this case may have helped to shift the public perception of the Freegans. These men and women may look like the upholders of common sense, the bastions of strength and sensibility in a corporate world which may be eager to please the consumer at any cost.
How might there may be a healthy chance the public might see large-scale changes in the industry to meet increased demands for ethical stock management?