France Bans Plastic Packaging For Fruit And Veg

France is taking an inspiring new step to protect the environment by restricting the sale of practically all fruits and vegetables in plastic packaging. Starting January 2022, the French government’s drive to reduce the country’s “outrageous amount of single-use plastic” will be moving towards its main focus of protecting both people and the planet.

It’s estimated that this new law will prevent more than 1 billion pieces of plastic packaging being used! And by June 2026, the plastic ban will be extended to all fruits and vegetables, allowing the government time to find and adopt “alternatives solutions” to plastic packaging.

The French government announced that within this law around 30 produce items must be sold without plastic packaging across the country.. Leeks, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, turnips, cabbages, and cauliflowers are among the vegetables that fall into this category.

Fruits such as apples, pears, oranges, kiwis, and lemons, for example, must be offered in reusable or recyclable 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”, according to a statement made by The French Government’s Environment Ministry.

Credits - Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Plastic packaging is currently used in over 37% of all produce sales in the country. However, France has been looking into reducing their waste for a while now. The beginning of 2021 saw the government’s ban on plastic straws, cups and cutlery, as well as polystyrene takeaway boxes. Later this year, public spaces will be required to provide water fountains in order to limit the use of plastic bottles and fast-food restaurants will no longer be able to sell free plastic toys, which seems like a really positive step in the right direction.

Critics of the new legislation claimed that implementing a ban on plastic packaging by the start of the new year would be challenging. According to Freshfel, the European Fresh Produce Association, the plastic ban will “significantly endanger other environmental priorities undertaken by the sector.”

In a press release, Philippe Binard, the head of Freshfel, stated that the “removal of plastic packaging from most fruit and vegetables at such short notice does not allow alternatives to be tested and introduced in a timely manner and stocks of existing packaging to be cleared.”

Recent months have shown a number of other European governments declaring similar prohibitions as part of their obligations made at the last COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

Spain is an example of this, stating that by the beginning of 2023, plastic wrapping on fruits and vegetables in grocery stores will be prohibited. The restriction will apply to produce weighing less than 1.5kg, with the entire list of products to be determined by the Spanish Food Safety and Nutrition Agency under new regulations.

It’s great to see governments around the world start to implement these laws and work towards finding solutions and alternatives for unnecessary plastic. If you’re interested to find out more about the circular economy and its benefits to our planet then click here.