France Has Banned Plastic Plates, Cups and Utensils

September 20, 2016 | Erica Tennenhouse

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Au revoir, plastics!

France has become the first country to ban plastic plates, cups, and utensils, The Washington Post reports.

When the newly passed law goes into effect in 2020, only tableware composed of at least 50 percent biologically sourced materials will be permitted. That number will increase to 60 percent by 2025.

READ MORE: There Could Be More Plastic than Fish in the Oceans by 2050

The measure is part of the country’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, which aims to make France “an exemplary nation in terms of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, diversifying its energy model and increasing the deployment of renewable energy sources.” Already, the country has banned the use of plastic bags in grocery stores under that same legislation.

Plastics cause environmental problems because they do not biodegrade, they are mistaken for food by many animals, and their manufacture requires massive amounts of oil.

Yet some are opposed the new plastic dishware ban in France, including Pack2GoEurope, the association representing Europe's food packaging manufacturers.

The association’s secretary general Eamonn Bates argues that there is no proof that biologically-sourced disposable materials are better for the environment than plastics, and that these “environmentally-friendly” products will not degrade in home composts.

Bates told The Associated Press that the ban "will be understood by consumers to mean that it is OK to leave this packaging behind in the countryside after use because it's easily biodegradable in nature. That's nonsense! It may even make the litter problem worse."

Environmentalists were hoping that the ban, which was initially proposed by the Europe Ecologie-Greens Party, would go into effect sooner than 2020. But The Washington Post reports that it got postponed because Segolene Royal, the French environmental minister, initially opposed the law, deeming it unfair to low-income families that rely on plastic dishware.

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