France bans plastic packaging for most fruits and vegetables | Environment News

France has banned the use of plastics to package most fruits and vegetables.

The ban came into effect on Saturday under new regulations which the government of French President Emmanuel Macron said aim to phase out single-use plastics as pollution worsens around the world.

Under the new rules, leeks and carrots, tomatoes and potatoes, apples and pears and about 30 other items can no longer be sold in plastic. Instead, they should be packaged in recyclable materials.

Plastic will still be allowed for more fragile fruits such as berries and peaches, but will be phased out over the coming years.

Magazines and other publications will also have to be shipped without plastic packaging, and fast food outlets will no longer be allowed to give free plastic toys to children.

Later this year, public spaces will also be developed to introduce water fountains to reduce the use of plastic bottles.

The government said the new regulations are expected to eliminate around 1 billion plastic waste per year.

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet, a French journalist and writer, told Al Jazeera that the new rules had met with mixed reactions.

“It’s a bit schizophrenic because on the one hand, the French are very aware of the need to reduce the use of plastic. There is broad support for not using so much plastic. At the same time, once you buy vegetables yourself, you realize that nothing has been done to find new ways of packaging that prevent products from breaking down too quickly, ”she said. declared.

“The other thing is, it’s just happening around the time of COVID. And quite frankly, people were just happy that they didn’t have others pawing their veg, trying and smelling them and buying them or not buying them, ”she said. “People don’t know exactly how to take it. There are pros and cons to this.

The French packaging industry, for its part, expressed dismay at the new rules, in particular the ban on the use of recycled plastics.

“We were never consulted,” deplores Laurent Grandin, head of the Interfel association for the fruit and vegetable sector.

He told AFP news agency the costs were “insurmountable” for small businesses that would have to continue using plastic to protect exports, especially to the UK, a big customer of French apples.

Elipso, an association that represents manufacturers, said in a press release that they have client companies “who will have to stop their fruit and vegetable packaging activity, even though they have been working for several years on alternatives using less plastic or plastic. recycled ”.

Elipso and Polyvia, a union of 3,500 companies manufacturing packaging, have appealed to the French Council of State, which is responsible for administrative disputes, against what they say is a distortion of European markets because the ban is only applies to France.

But Armand Chaigne, director of industrial markets for DS Smith packaging, sees the benefits, especially for cardboard makers.

“It is estimated that in Europe, of the eight million tonnes of plastic produced per year for single-use packaging, 1.5 million tonnes could already be withdrawn,” he said.

“This represents around 70 billion units of single-use plastic packaging”, or “around seven billion euros ($ 7.9 billion) of additional sales potential for cardboard”.

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