France Becomes First Country to Ban Plastic Plates, Cups and Cutlery

From next year, France will make it illegal to buy or sell disposable food containers that are not at least 50% biodegradable.

30.09.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo on Fondazione Barilla
Photo on Fondazione Barilla

As of 2020, the approach France takes to single-use plastic will be much tougher. Nearly all plastic cups, plates and cutlery will be banned.

In particular, any disposable products made from less than 50% biodegradable material — rising to 60% biodegradable by 2025 — will become illegal.

The prohibition will also extend to water bottles in school canteens; stirrers and plastic straws in restaurants, takeaways and food shops; plastic swabs; polystyrene food containers often used to house kebabs; and plastic rods for balloons.

The wide ranging ban comes as part of France’s Energy Transition and Green Growth Act, a 2015 policy aiming to drastically limit the country’s plastic footprint. The law has already meant an end to single-use plastic bags at point of sale, even if there’s a charge involved.

And the country is not messing around: failure to comply with the provision leads to potential penalties of two years in prison and a fine of €100,000.

There’s clearly a need for drastic action. According to Global Citizen, 4.73 billion plastic cups are thrown away in France, of which just 1% are recycled. The French Government adds that across the EU, countries produce more than 25 tonnes of plastic waste every year.

While there has been some resistance from lobby groups representing the interests of packing manufacturers, the general reaction from people concerned about the planet — and the accelerating risk of irreversible climate catastrophe — has been that this is a necessary first step towards a healthier world.

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