France Becomes First Country To Ban All Single-Use Plastic Cutlery, Plates, And Cups

France has become the first country in the world to ban plastic cutlery, plates, and cups with the passage of a law that takes effect in 2020. Exceptions will be made for any items made of compostable or biosourced materials, according to the Washington Post:

“The new law is a part of the country’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, the same legislation that also outlawed plastic bags in grocery stores and markets beginning in July. Although plastic bags are forbidden in other countries — including in some U.S. states — no country seems to have embraced a plastic ban as sweeping as France’s will be.

“The general idea behind the law — following the landmark conference held in Paris last fall on curbing global warming — is to promote a ‘circular economy’ of waste disposal, ‘from product design to recycling,’ French lawmakers say.”

The problem with items made of single-use plastic includes the fact that it doesn’t biodegrade over time, instead merely breaking down into smaller particles that have been proven to be a danger for wildlife which cannot distinguish the particles from food, especially in the oceans.

Additionally, manufacturing plastics uses millions of barrels of oil each and every year, and that contributes significantly to climate change.

While the ban on plastic utensils, plates, cups may be popular with the French government and people, some companies say the law violates European Union legislation which specifically protects the free movement of goods and protection of manufacturers:

“Eamonn Bates, the secretary general of Pack2Go Europe, a Brussels-based association that represents packaging manufacturers on the continent, told the Associated Press that his organization will challenge France’s ban.

“’We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law,’ he said. ‘If they don’t, we will.'”

In 2016, France banned all lightweight plastic bags used at supermarket checkouts, following the lead of other countries such as Bangladesh  South Africa, Kenya, China, Rwanda, and Mexico. Some states in the U.S. have also done so.

The need to reduce plastic waste has never been more urgent, according to TenTree:

“In 2016, world plastics production totaled around 335 million metric tonsA full 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging produced annually is left to flow into our oceans; the equivalent of pouring one garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.

“This is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050. By 2050, this could mean there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans.”

Adding to the problem of plastic waste is the fact that so little of it is recycled, National Geographic notes:

“According to a 2011 study by Columbia University’s Earth Engineering Center, of the seven basic types of plastics, only two are routinely recycled: polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the stuff of those 50 billion water bottles; and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which goes to make milk bottles, laundry detergent jugs, water pipes, and bottle caps. All in all, only about 6.5 percent of American plastic is recycled. In part this lousy score is because plastics are a such a mixed bag: separating plastics from non-plastics and the various kinds of plastics from each other is expensive and labor-intensive.

“And it’s also because a lot of us still simply pitch our plastic into the trash. According to Ecowatch, the average American tosses 185 pounds of plastic a year. The vast bulk of that plastic ends up in landfills or is dumped at the side of the road.”

France has made a bold move to combat the problem of plastic waste, but every nation on the planet needs to follow suit.

Featured Image Via Pixabay

 

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Andrew Bradford
 

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