Why France Banned Plastic Tableware

― Esther Chung, Co-Editor in Chief ―

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(Photo Courtesy of leaf.tv)

By January 2020, it will be impossible to find plastic tableware in France. A new French law will require that all disposable plates, cups, and cutlery to be made of at least 50% natural material that can be composted instead of recycled or thrown out. By 2025, the goal is to raise that number by another 10%. The hopes are that taking this measure will help increase French citizens’ awareness for the environment and how their choices affect the earth. On a larger scale, France hopes to make themselves a world leader in affairs concerning cutting down on waste and becoming more eco-friendly.

France is second biggest producer of waste in the European Union, and in the European Union alone, 25 million tons of plastic is produced each year, though less than 25% is recycled. This immense waste harms the earth by degrading quality of the environment and the resources available to humans. As a new, innovative way to counteract such waste, France has put the ban in place to take effect by 2020. Those in support of this new law say that this ban will allow people to become more aware of the way they dispose of recyclable materials, and that this will cut down waste and pollution by significant amounts. They see the law as a method to curb the onset of global warming. “I’m glad France made this law because it will help us be more conscious about what we buy and how we dispose of it,” says Océane B., a sophomore high school student in Paris, France. However, the reactions to this law are not entirely positive. Great backlash has also been occurring in response to this law, especially in the industry. Many argue that this ban violates EU policies, stating that it does not protect manufacturers, and that it is inconsistent with laws regarding free movement of goods.

More than anything, companies are scrambling to create products that conform to the new law, as the implementing of the law would cut off most plastic tableware suppliers in France.

The question of whether or not this choice is beneficial overall is not known, and only time will tell if this law is truly all that it seems to be. While it would benefit the environment, the negative impacts it could have on industries both in France and abroad seem to be risky. Many other countries are considering enacting similar laws, so as time passes, the world will be looking towards France to see what the outcomes of such a significant law will be.

France’s government hopes, ultimately, that the addition of this law will be a pioneering force towards a more environmentally sustainable range of consumer goods. As more countries follow suit, there is a possibility that global waste volume could be cut down significantly, improving the environment for people all around the world.

Cover Photo Courtesy of mic.com