Karlsruhe closes the lid (neue-deutschland.de)

A lot of good food ends up in the bin. Saving them is theft by law.

Foto: imago images/Sabine Gudath

In addition to supermarkets, high and barbed wire-proven fences sometimes stretch into the sky. In most cases, this does not protect stored goods, but rather: garbage. Or at least what is explained about it. Because not only broken or inedible ends up in containers and bins, a large part of what is disposed of is flawless food. So that people who consider this waste to be a sacrilege do not have access to this “garbage”, there are fences and barbed wire on the one hand, and laws on the other. According to them, containerizing, i.e. saving food, is a criminal offense – and it will remain so for the time being.

Two students who had been prosecuted for theft because they contained containers failed with a constitutional complaint against their conviction before the Federal Constitutional Court. The highest German judges did not accept these for a decision and came to the conclusion in their reasoning that the legislature “may fundamentally protect civil property under criminal law, also in economically worthless things”.

The judges also stated that there was nothing wrong with the evidence provided by the specialized courts. Among other things, they pointed out that the container parked on the premises of the supermarket had been locked and the waste had been ready to be handed over to a specialized disposal company. From this it can be concluded that the company wanted to remain the owner of the waste. In addition, the owner deliberately wanted the food to be destroyed by the waste disposal company, “in order to rule out any liability risks when consuming the partly expired and possibly also spoiled goods”. Even the owner’s interest in excluding legal disputes is to be accepted within the framework of the freedom of property guaranteed in the Basic Law. In addition, there are sufficient possibilities in criminal law and criminal procedure law to “take into account the minor guilt of the perpetrator in individual cases”.

In protest against waste, the two students had rescued groceries from a locked supermarket dumpster and were sentenced by the Fürstenfeldbruck district court for theft to eight social hours and a fine of 225 euros on probation. The Bavarian Supreme Court had confirmed the judgment.

With his current decision, the Karlsruhe judge has “wasted a great opportunity to set an example in the fight against wasting resources and the prosecution of petty offenses,” says Niema Movassat, constitutional spokesman for the left-wing parliamentary group in the Bundestag. “To insist on the criminal liability of theft of food that is economically worthless is absurd, especially in times of the climate crisis. Huge amounts of resources flow into the production of food, only so that millions of tons end up in the garbage every year, ”says Movassat. The left has long been demanding that containers be decriminalized. “

Renate Künast, spokeswoman for food policy for the Greens in the Bundestag, demands that the federal government must “finally take action so that people who save food from the garbage are not punished.” The “ethical and legal contradiction between the fight against food waste on the one hand and the criminalization of containers, on the other hand, «must be dissolved. “It must be started right at the beginning of the chain of causation,” says Künast. Overproduction in agriculture is one of the reasons why food is thrown away. Therefore “the production of excess quantities must be curbed and quality promoted instead of producing waste.”

Boris Burghardt, board member of the Society for Freedom Rights, which had supported the two complainants in their concerns in Karlsruhe, said the decision shows that politics must finally take action. “It contradicts the declared goal of the federal government to stop food waste. that people are punished for keeping edible food from being disposed of, ”said Burghardt. The court emphasized several times in its decision that the federal government could legally end food waste and thus make containers superfluous. With agencies


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