Tue 12 October 2021:
The government of France has announced that plastic packaging would be banned on roughly 30 fruits and vegetables starting in January 2022.
The initiative is part of a waste-reduction law that will take effect next year. In France, around 37% of fruits and vegetables are sold in plastic packaging.
According to the French environment, agriculture, and finance ministries, the new regulation will eliminate about one billion “unnecessary plastic packaging.”
“We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives. The circular economy law aims at cutting back the use of throwaway plastic and boost its substitution by other materials or reusable and recyclable packaging,” the ministry said in a statement.
Leeks, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes and carrots, round tomatoes, onions and turnips, cabbages, cauliflowers, squashes, parsnips, radishes, Jerusalem artichokes, and root vegetables would all be affected by the policy.
Plastic will be phased out in the sale of apples, pears, oranges, kiwis, lemons, citrus, prunes, melon, pineapples, mango, and other fruits.
According to the environment ministry, the prohibition will be extended to all fruits and vegetables by June 2026 in order to find “alternative solutions” to plastic packing. This is for ripe fruits and berries that can deteriorate if sold in quantity.
Interfel, the sector’s inter-professional group, criticized the government’s move, claiming that plastic is already being used to “limit food waste” and that implementation would be impossible by the start of the year.
The sector currently around 65% of fruit and vegetables are sold in bulk, Interfel said, adding that it represents “less than 1.5% of plastic packaging used in the food sector.”
“It is unfortunate that some pragmatic proposals formulated by the industry were not accepted, such as the use of 100% recyclable plastic for fruit and vegetable packaging (authorised in all other sectors!),” Interfel added.
Public spaces must have water fountains by 2022 to decrease the use of plastic bottles; press and publicity publications must be distributed without plastic wrapping; and fast-food restaurants cannot offer free plastic toys.
From January 2023, fast-food restaurants in France will be prohibited from using disposable crockery for on-site meals.
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