France’s war on disposable plastic junk continues, with a ban on plastic cutlery set to hit in 2020. Disposable cutlery and plates will still be allowed, but they’ll have to be made from “biologically sourced materials,” says the AP, and be compostable.
The ban, which is a follow-up to France’s prohibition of plastic bags, will also apply to things like plastic cups in coffee vending machines.
When you think of a French picnic, you imagine gingham napkins and a wooden-handled picnic knife to cut a crusty baguette. But picnickers are likely to be the least affected. Plastic packaging is big business and heavily used in the food takeout business. Which is why Europe’s plastic packaging lobby is getting angry. The ban was actually signed into law last year as part of France’s Energy Transition for Green Growth, but is in the news now thanks to opposition from Pack2Go Europe, an industry body which promotes the use of disposable packaging.
Pack2Go claims that France’s ban violates EU laws on the free movement of goods, which doesn’t seem to apply in this case, as all plastic cutlery and cups would be banned, not just those from other EU member states. “We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law,” Pack2Go Europe secretary general Eamonn Bates said to the AP. “If they don’t, we will.”
Bates also claims that using biodegradable plastic will encourage picnickers to leave their cutlery behind, just tossing it away, showing a rather low opinion of the French.
Despite industry opposition like this, disposable plastics are disappearing fast. France, along with much of the U.K. and Europe, and even some U.S. states, have all seen successful bans on free plastic bags in stores (although in England people are stealing them instead of paying for them). Plastic lingers forever, and even when it breaks down, it stays in a harmful form, ending up in the bellies of sea birds and whales. Hopefully the likes of Pack2Go Europe will be silenced not by French courts, but by a Europe-wide ban on disposable plastic.
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