On 10 February 2020, the French law on fighting waste and the circular economy was enacted after months of discussions between the National Assembly and the Senate.
The law contributes to the framework set out by the 2004 French Environmental Charter, and transposes provisions of several related EU regulations.
Here Marie Plancke, Delegate General at Club Bioplastiques, French partner association of European Bioplastics, summarises.
Following the European Single-use Plastic Directive, France published a new Circular Economy Law.
Aiming to improve reuse and recycling, and to reduce plastic consumption, the law will mean many changes for the different industries.
Extended Producer Responsibility is widely promoted as well as requirements on consumer information to help sorting packaging.
As far as the bioplastics industry is concerned, the measures that have been selected totally underestimate bioplastics’ contribution to a new circular economy.
The end of single-use plastic packaging?
French Secretary of State Brune Poirson dedicated herself to support the end of single-use plastic packaging by 2040.
To achieve this goal, the law announces several bans, whether bio-based and/or compostable or not.
Following the European Directive, the French law banned single-use plastic cutlery, straws, plates, and cup lids.
However, it also goes further by banning single-use plastic cups and glasses, although the directive mentions them only on the restriction list.
Existing ban exemptions in favour of bio-based and home compostable items have been cancelled.
By 2023, fast food retailers will no longer be allowed to sell meals in single-use plastic containers for in store consumption.
Industries and NGOs alike welcome a necessary fight against plastic pollution.
However, acknowledging modern consumption habits, we should ask ourselves about the consequences of these.
Does a ban mean a change of consumer behaviour? What happens if individuals and businesses start using ‘reusable’ items the same way they use SUPs?
NGOs are already warning of those effects, which could be damaging to the environment.
Thus, we strongly expect the Ministry to address these issues with application decrees.
In addition, it is of great significance that bioplastics are no longer allowed for mailing film.
Accordingly, starting on 1 January 2022, press and advertising publications will be shipped without plastic packaging.
Compostability: an unfortunate measure
Consumer information ranks amongst the law’s key-points, especially concerning the selective sorting of waste.
An amendment has been adopted to ban the ‘compostable’ claim by 2022, if it does not refer to ‘home compostable’.
A decree will define this measure.
The French bioplastics association is fully committed to defend the industrial composting claim for packaging.
Industrial composting facilities are still in development in a country which is really late on separate collection of biowaste and composting it.
Fortunately, in compliance with the Waste Directive, the new law entails that all waste producers will be obligated to sort out and recover biowaste by 31 December 2023.
The law acknowledges compostable bags contribution to a circular Economy
The French environment agency Ademe acknowledges that, compostable bags help to improve biowaste collection and recovery.
Although fruits and vegetables plastic bags which are not both, biobased and compostable, were already banned (Energy Transition Law).
They still can be found on every small French market. From now on, in accordance with the French Circular Economy Law, the Environment Ministry’s bodies will supervise the compliance of the new regulations.
In case of non-compliance, fines from €3,000 to €15,000 can be imposed.
We obviously will remain alert on the further application of the law
Published on eppm.com
French Circular Economy Law brings substantial changes