France to ban plastics in foodservice

The French Government is planning to ban all plastic cups, cutlery and plates by the end of the decade. The new law, part of the country’s “Energy Transition for Green Growth” package, has divided opinion.

Manufacturers of plastic packaging, unsurprisingly, are not keen on the idea. At a meeting organised by European Plastics Converters last week, some suggested the legislation was neither realistic nor environmentally beneficial.

“Compostable materials are being presented as an improvement when they could be a major step backwards,” said Akan Campbell, technical director at the Life Cycle Assessment Centre, in an interview with Ends Europe. “If the French government expects them to disappear upon littering, it is not going to happen. Many of these [compostable] items will not act to resolve plastic pollution as they will not degrade in natural environments.”

Pack2Go Europe, a Brussels-based organisation that represents packaging manufacturers in Europe, believes there is proof that biologically-sourced materials are more environmentally beneficial than plastics. The group is set to fight the law tooth and nail, not least because the idea could catch on in other countries.

Arash Derambarsh, the councillor behind France’s new food waste laws, has backed the plastic dishware ban. "We have to pass the same law in all European countries to tackle this very important problem of waste," he told the Independent.

Paul Darby, UK & Ireland area manager for bioplastics firm Novamont, said he is “already working closely” with some UK-based manufacturers that are planning to launch compostable bioplastic packaging solutions “way before the legislation date”. The new law “should be seen as a business opportunity to help drive innovation and create new jobs throughout the supply chain”, he told Footprint.

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