A new law prohibiting the wrapping of fruits and vegetables in plastic covers became effective on January 1 in France. In accordance with the new law, 30 types of fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, oranges, potatoes, apples and lemons, can no longer be wrapped in plastic.
BBC reports that fragile fruits such as berries and peaches can still be packed in plastic for the time being. Emmanuel Macron called the ban ‘a real revolution’ and said it demonstrates France’s commitment to phase out single-use plastics by 2040. Larger packs and processed or chopped fruit would also be exempted from it .
The Environment Ministry reported in a statement that France uses an ‘outrageous amount’ of single-use plastics, and the law is intended to restrict the use of throwaway plastic and encourage the use of reusable and recyclable packaging. According to government officials, about a third of all fruits and vegetables sold in France are packaged in plastic, and a ban on single-use plastic could prevent the use of more than a billion items each year.
Macron’s government introduced the ban as part of a multi-year plan that will result in the decline of the use of plastic by many industries. Plastic straws, plastic cups, and takeout boxes made of polystyrene have been banned in France since last year. To reduce the use of plastic bottles, public places will also be required to install water fountains by the end of the year. As a result, magazines and other publications will no longer be shipped in plastic wrap, and fast-food joints will no longer be able to give away free plastic toys with their meals.
The new ban, however, is being implemented so quickly that industry figures have expressed concern. BBC News reported that Philippe Binard, from the European Fresh Produce Association, said that removing plastic packaging from most fruits and vegetables at such short notice compromises the opportunity to test and introduce alternatives in a timely manner as well as to clear existing stocks of packaging.
Following their promises at the recent COP26 conference in Glasgow, a number of European countries have announced similar bans in recent months. On December 13th, Spain announced that it would ban the sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging starting in 2023, so that businesses could find alternatives. In addition to new environmental regulations, Macron’s government announced rules that required car advertisements to promote greener options, such as walking and cycling.