Legal entity & administrative burden

As you might have noticed, some groups from D.L.C. France have joined Karrot recently for a little testing phase. DLC (Détournement Libre de Consommables, a nice pun on the french acronym for “use-by date”) has been going strong in Nantes for the past 5 years, with over 150 active members, and is trying to expand its activity through France. They set up an umbrella federation to support this swarming attempt, helping to set up partnerships with stores and to get started on administrative tasks.
Good news: it is working! La Rochelle and Les Sables D’Olonnes, in the same region, have taken it up, and something is bubbling up in Lyon…
Bad news: whilst the local members are happy to do the good deed of picking up the food, there is little enthousiasm for taking over the administrative burden - setting up their own official association, and all the boring French paperwork and costs that come along with that. So they remain dependent on the umbrella federation, which ends up with a heavier administrative workload and has legal liability over all activities on the ground.
But the federation is as grassroots as it gets, without anyone on the payroll for lack of any regular and significant source of income. On top of this need for administrative volunteers (a rare breed), there are fixed costs associated with liability insurance of the association and its members.
Results: membership to participate in DLC activities comes with fees (8€/year), and the efforts to spread through France are met by slow results…

So, wait! Why can’t the French foodsaving communities function like in Germany, with little administrative oversight from the state and no costs associated with liablity insurance?
As far as I understand, most French stores insist on the existence of a legal entity with insurance to donate the food to, because then, whatever they donate is subject to tax exemption. In other words: profit. Up to 45,000€ less a year to pay in taxes for the biggest cooperating store in Nantes, says Clément (one of the founders, and our main contact with DLC).

All this made me curious of the legal requirements in the different national contexts that Karrot groups experience.
Is France an outlier or is this a common barrier to expansion?


Hello Taïs,
I suppose this is a result of the anti food waste law France introduced a few years ago, or isn’t it? Here in Luxembourg, the shops are not financially incentivised by the government to donate that food. Concerning liability, our volunteers are privately liable as our association only organises the pickups to not be categorized as food business.
Many greetings,

Hello Daniel,
Here in France, volonteers can’t be privately liable. Pickups engage association liability. If the volonteers would sign discharge letter, I am pretty sure this letter would not be accepted by juge our court during a trial.
Thanks for your answer,
Many greetings,

Great to get some more details!
Here in Sweden the legal framework is not clear at all. It’s basically the same as Germany, but we don’t do the thing with the personal liability contract. In fact here in Gothenburg we don’t have any contracts at all with the shops. The one time I asked the local authority for food safety they said that shops are not directly responsible for the food they donate. It makes sense. The legal framework is built upon the EU Directive on food safety and there’s not much there regarding food donation (I have found a document on guidelines for donating though).

I assume all this bureaucracy is because of the French law, which opened up some opportunities for more established charity organizations but is definitely not ok for grassroots initiatives like DLC. I’ve talked to the author of this law by e-mail and tried to give him this perspective of saving food not only as a charity issue, but he was not enthusiastic of it, to say the least. It’s a shame that even dedicated lawmakers like himself won’t recognize the potential and need of mobilizing civil society to take care of food waste and share it freely and choose to see it instead as a matter of charities helping the needy.


Interesting that you talked to the law maker, @bruno! Did you specifically get in touch with him regarding this topic?

Apparently charities can only be valid organisations to donate to, according to this 2016 law, if they exist on a national level (what @ClemNantes has told me). So local groups can’t even apply :sweat:

And the tax exemption system is much older than this 2016 law. It’s built into our tax system that companies can get generous tax exemptions on donations, including food donations; 60% of the value of the donation can be claimed back on taxes :dizzy_face:

Little digression
There was a wave of public outrage about this law, the “patronage law”, after the 2019 fire in Notre Dame: very wealthy companies were getting a lot of credit for donating huge sums of money to the reconstruction project, but the state ended up paying 60% of it

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