France has proven itself to be a progressive nation in recent years. First, it made it illegal for grocery stores to purposefully waste food, then it recognized dogs as sentient beings. Following that, Paris held the world’s first car-free day in an effort to reduce emissions and prevent climate change from worsening.
Now, France has passed a new law which will ban the sale of plastic cups, cutlery and plates unless they are compostable and are made of biologically-sourced materials. The Independent reports that the law will go into effect in 2020 and is part of the Energy Transition for Green Growth. The nation is eager to make a more effective contribution to tackling climate change, and this latest ban is part of its strategy.
Although environmentalists are celebrating this news, not all are in favor of the ban. The main argument being presented is that the ban violates European Union rules on free movement of goods.
European packaging manufacturer Pack2Go Europe told media outlets that it will continue to fight the new law. Secretary general Eamonn Bates of the organization told The Associated Press: “We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law, If they don’t, we will.”
According to a report by the French consumer watchdog, the rate of recycling in France is akin to America’s, which is why many environmental organizations support the new legislation.
Bates, however, is adamant that there is no proof the biologically-sourced materials are better for the environment. Furthermore, he argues that the ban might make the situation worse as people misunderstand the extend of degradability. He said: “[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 bio-degradable in nature. That’s nonsense! It may even make the litter problem worse.”
While it will always be better for the environment to invest in plates, cutlery, and cups that can be reused, a reduction in plastic pollution will undoubtedly help prevent climate change from worsening. After all, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the globe four times. In addition, plastic biodegrades at a glacial pace; if consumers begin using compostable items which are to be disposed of, at least the environmental repercussions will be less damaging.
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