People and Leaders Plastic Bans Politics & Legislation

Interview with CEO Novamont France

This week, Christophe Doukhi de Boissoudy, president of Club Bio-Plastiques (French Bioplastics Association), speaks about the role of bio-based and biodegradable bags in the development of a circular economy.

“If the goal of getting out of” all plastic “is necessary, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water,” he says.

No one would dispute the need to act quickly and strongly in favor of a more efficient ecological management of our litter, at a time when France produces 514 kilos of municipal waste per year per inhabitant (Eurostat 2019).

France seems to be a bad student in this matter as the European average is 486 kilos!

Unfortunately, while the joint committee has just adopted the anti-waste bill for a circular economy, certain actions could seriously hamper the development of the circular economy.

The essential objective of better treatment and quality recovery of bio-waste – for example kitchen waste – is particularly threatened.

Biodegradable bags: allies in the collection of bio-waste

Whether by ideology or ignorance, some MPs have mobilized in favor of a complete ban on bio-based (of plant origin) and compostable bags for fruits and vegetables, while the latter are already essential allies in the collection and recovery of bio-waste in many municipalities.

Let us clearly state the terms of the debate here: France must now urgently move forward on the large-scale construction of an efficient and sustainable model enabling the sorting, collection and recovery of organic waste which in fact represents one third of the households waste.

Returning to the soil in the form of compost

The delay in this matter is obvious: we are still far from being able to properly separate bio-waste from the rest of household waste, to collect it and return it to the ground in the form of quality compost.

Our neighbors are doing much better with a separate bio-waste collection rate that reaches 60% in Germany compared to 6% in France (Ademe 2013).

Time is running out against us since, by December 31, 2023, our country has made a commitment to its European partners to generalize sorting at the source of bio-waste.

Every year agricultural land loses organic matter and compost maintains the fertility of the soil.

Concretely, the compostable bio-based bag is the ideal tool to help citizens in sorting their bio-waste.

Why ? Because after having been used to transport fruits and vegetables, this bag will serve as a container for bio-waste.

Hygienic and practical for the user, it will then be collected by the collection agents before being recovered with the bio-waste it contains.

Of course, this presupposes the development of a composting sector (more than 700 platforms for green waste already exist in France) if we aspire to build the foundations of a truly circular economy.

At the end of a controlled process, all of the organic matter (compostable bags and bio-waste) will produce compost useful for fertility and soil regeneration.

It is precisely with this in mind that the legislator recognized the usefulness and the environmental performance of the applications developed by the members of the Club Bio-Plastiques via the energy transition law adopted 4 years ago.

The legislator had chosen to impose them above conventional plastic fruit and vegetable bags made from non-renewable fossil resources.

Better environmental performance than paper bags

The industrials of the sector have never deviated from this commitment: by manufacturing compostable, and therefore biodegradable, solutions incorporating a base of plant origin, they offer a more ecological alternative, at the center of a virtuous circle which only requires to be encouraged.

In an ADEME opinion issued in November, it has been shown that the environmental performance of these bags is better than that of paper bags.

The agency continues by recommending the use of bags for the separate collection of food waste.

Tomorrow, bio-based and compostable solutions and research in this area may be seriously hampered.

They nevertheless make concrete contributions to society and occupy the 1 st place in the Top 10 emerging technologies of 2019 according to the World Economic Forum.

Job creation

Let us not underestimate the negative signal that will be given to innovation and to the defenders of “Made in France” if these applications disappear tomorrow.

The 2015 ecological transition law made it possible to limit the massive import of single-use plastic bags from Asia to more than 95%!

The legislative support granted to compostable bio-based solutions has enabled our companies to relaunch stopped production lines in the region, to create new ones and to repatriate more than 2,000 jobs.

If the goal of getting out of “all plastic” is laudable and necessary, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Our companies invest, create jobs in France and are committed to a dynamic of innovation.

They work to diversify plant resources, use non-food crops, and even waste.

They increase the environmental performance of their products while integrating, in their thinking, the benefits of their second use.


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