France will ban the use of plastic packaging for the sale of most fruits and vegetables from January 2022 but the latest announcement contains some loopholes.
Currently, in France, around 37% of fruits and vegetables are sold in plastic packaging: and the new measure is expected to eliminate more than a billion packaging per year. The government has assured that the disposal will be completed by 2026, with the aim of complying with the European Union’s objectives of reducing the environmental impact of waste and promoting the principles of the circular economy.
The measure taken by the French government is part of a larger plan the country adopted in 2019 to eliminate plastic, especially in the food supply chain. Plastic straws, cups, cutlery and take-out boxes have been banned this year while from 2022 public spaces will need to be fitted with water fountains to reduce the use of plastic bottles, and Food chains such as McDonald’s will not be allowed to distribute plastic toys and gadgets.
The NGO Zero Waste Europe, welcomed the vote of the measure in 2019, but it has now criticized this latest decision: while a global ban on plastic for fruits and vegetables is set out in law, the decree establishes a far too long list of exemptions. said Moïra Tourneur, advocacy manager of Zero Waste France (ZWE), the French branch of the NGO.
The ban includes about 30 types of fruits and vegetables will be packaged such as eggplants, cucumbers and mangoes. Fruits like apricots and peaches are instead exempt from the ban because they are deemed too delicate to reach retailers without the protection of plastic packaging, a move that has intrigued Zero Waste Europe campaigners: “Why should there be an exemption for peaches and apricots [when] about 73% of them are already sold without plastic? Turner said, adding that the exemptions would only delay and reduce the scope of the country’s plastic phase-out.
For activists, the success of the ban depends on retailers and consumers adopting different packaging practices rather than substituting one material for another. “We must prevent these packaging from being replaced by single-use packaging such as paper or cardboard. Emphasis should be placed on the use of reusable bags and containers which should be accessible to everyone, ”Tourneur added. According to a recent report by the Rethink Plastic Alliance, an NGO coalition that includes ZWE, a 50% reusable packaging target in key sectors could significantly reduce CO2 emissions, water consumption and waste.
Despite the announcement of the latest measure and commitments, the country is not doing enough to shift to more sustainable and environmental practices across sectors, a court ruling said this week. A French court has ordered the country to meet its commitments to cut emissions by 40% by 2030, after an environmental activist took the case to court.
Food packaging not only harms the environment, but also human health, as a recent study found that chemicals used in packaging can play a role in more than 100,000 deaths per year in the United States.