Last week, the Associated Press reported that France will become the first country to ban all plastic dishes, cups and utensils, according to a ban enacted this summer.
According to the controversial ban, by the year 2020, companies will have to use “biologically sourced,” compostable materials for all disposable dishware. Never fear, you will still be able to use disposable products at your picnic in the French countryside—it’s just that they will not be made of plastic.
This ban stems from a conference held in Paris last year focused on the fight against global warming. Feeling inspired by the events from last year’s conference, environmentalists are pushing France to become the leader of environmental progress. Before the ban was enacted, France, along with several U.S. cities and the entire state of Hawaii, had already banned plastic bags.
Those in support of the plastics bans believe the disruption for manufacturers is well worth the environmental pay-off. An estimated 75 percent of all ocean debris is made of plastic, which takes, at best, hundreds of years to fully disintegrate.
Opponents of the ban, like the Brussels-based organization Pack2Go Europe, which represents European packaging manufacturers, say it violates commerce rules of the European Union. And there might be a burden on low-income families, according to France’s Environment Minister, since plant-based products are more expensive than petroleum-based products.
Eamonn Bates, Pack2Go Europe secretary general, told the AP that the ban might actually make the litter problem worse. “[Consumers will believe] that it is OK to leave this packaging behind in the countryside after use because it’s easily biodegradable in nature. That’s nonsense!”
Companies have been producing alternatives to plasticware for several years now. Plant starch, bio-plastics and paper are just a few of the materials used in lieu of plastic. One researcher from India has even created edible utensils.
Photo by formerly_gildermershina