There are many reasons you should say goodbye to single-use plastics for goods. Plastic takes an extraordinary length of time to break down, pollutes the environment, and harms wildlife. More and more countries around the world are pushing back on single-use plastics with fees and even sometimes outright bans on these plastics. In 2018, for example, New Zealand moved to completely ban single-use plastic bags. Now, France is joining the plastic-free revolution.
At the end of August 2019, France introduced a new policy that would ban disposable, single-use utensils, cups, and plates. This follows the country’s ban on plastic bags the previous year.
In a single year, nearly 5 billion plastic cups are thrown away in France alone. Beginning in 2020, that number will drop close to zero thanks to the ban.
As expected, there has been some industry pushback. Pack2Go, a European convenience food packaging association, claims that France is violating European laws by banning these single-use plastics. Pack2Go also claims that poorer families could be harmed by the decision.
But not all single-use utensils, cups, and plates would be banned udner the law. The law permits disposable products to be made commercially available provided they are made from at least 50% biodegradable material. By 2025, France will require at least 60% biodegradable material.
In 2016, world plastics production totaled around 335 million metric tons. A 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. There is a clear need for plastic use to be reduced. France’s ban on these single-use plastics will hopefully help reduce plastic pollution.