The French government is to ban plastic in the majority of fruit and vegetable packaging from January 2022. The announcement was made last Monday (11 October), when the government published a list of items that will need to be sold without plastic packaging from the beginning of next year. Around 30 fruit and vegetable items were included in this list.
Currently, just under 40% of fruit and veg in France is sold in plastic packaging and the French environment, agriculture and finance ministries said the new measure could remove around one billion plastic packages from the supply chain.
Among the items included in the new ruling are leeks, potatoes, onions, cabbages and cauliflowers, as well as apples, pears and lemon – to name a few. The ban is then expected to be extended to all fruit and vegetables by June 2026 at the latest, the environment ministry said, to allow sufficient time to identify and implement plastic alternatives.
In a statement, the ministry said: “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.”
The measure has not been met with resounding approval however, with some food industry members saying plastic packaging prevents softer items from being damaged, and helps to stop food waste. Industry body Interfel was among those who objected to the new law, saying that it would not be easily applied to food suppliers who ship and sell their produce in bulk.
“It is unfortunate that some pragmatic proposals formulated by the industry were not accepted, such as the use of 100% recyclable plastic for fruit and vegetable packaging (authorised in all other sectors!),” Interfel said.
The French government has a number of plastic-cutting measures in the pipeline, as part of its wide-scale initiative to phase out the materials. Other upcoming measures include the installation of public water fountains to cut down on plastic bottle use, banning plastic toys from fast food chains by 2022, and eliminating plastic cutlery from takeaway services by January 2023.