France Becomes First Country to Ban Plastic Silverware, Plates and Cups
In an effort to help curb some of the strains that disposable plastic puts on landfills, France is set to become the first country to ban all disposable cutlery products. By 2020, any disposable cutlery items will be required to be made from 50% biologically-sourced materials. By 2025, the cutlery will have to be made of 60% biologically sourced materials that can be composted at home.
Plastic materials are not biodegradable, often sitting in landfills or make their way into oceans. As they break down and become smaller and smaller, they can often find their way into food sources of local wildlife, potentially harming the environment and ecosystems. The plastic material can also potentially ruin their habitats, displacing and endangering many treasured animals.
Following the release of the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, the new rule was adopted in an effort to curb the waste created by these products and help lessen its effect on the environment. And while the law went into effect this year, companies who make plastic cutlery have until 2020 to comply with the new rules.
President of the country, François Hollande, says he hopes to make France a world leader in diversifying energy models and reducing greenhouse emissions.
And while this may seem like a victory for environmentalists, many in the packaging industry are lashing out. Pack2GoEurope, an industry association representing the interests of packaging companies throughout Europe, says that this new set of laws violates the EU’s laws on the free movement of goods. They are also concerned that they simply don’t have the technology to create what the French government is asking for.
Eamonn Bates, secretary general of Pack2GoEurope, stated:
“Finding a package that meets the really critical food hygiene requirements that consumers want, that can also be composted in a domestic composter…right now they don’t exist.”
Others worry that the new cutlery will encourage a litter problem throughout the country. If people think the products are biodegradable, they may simply leave them outside to compost, which could make the issue even worse than before.
Despite the heavy debates, France joined a long list of nations this July in banning the sale and distribution of plastic bags (just like our own Hawaii did) at supermarket checkouts–further proof that it is on its way to at least attempting some form of environmental stability and reducing its national global impact.