France Bans All Plastic Dishware Starting in 2020

September 17, 2016, 9:12 PM UTC
Plastic Fork On Cobblestones
Klaus-Dieter Thill / EyeEm Getty Images/EyeEm

The Associated Press reports that France has enacted a ban on all plastic dishes, cups, and utensils. The ban goes into effect in 2020, after which all disposable utensils and dishes must be made of biological, rather than petroleum-based, material.

Organizations representing packaging manufacturers are fighting the ban, saying that it violates European Union commerce rules. The ban follows a similar French ban on plastic bags.

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Moves against disposable plastic good have slowly gained momentum on the back of environmental concerns. A great deal of plastic waste ends up in the ocean, where it breaks down into tiny fragments that some worry could impact aquatic life. Plastic bags have been banned or regulated in dozens of municipalities in the U.S., including San Jose, New York City, and even the entire state of Hawaii.

There are already a number of companies producing alternatives to plasticware, including California-based World Centric and Michigan-based Fabri-Kal. The products are derived from a variety of alternative materials, including processed plant starch, bio-plastics, and plain old paper.

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Plant-based disposable products are often more expensive than petroleum-based products, and according to the AP, France’s Environment Minister initially opposed the new law as placing an excess burden on lower-income families.

Another possible wrinkle for the law is that it mandates disposables must be compostable at home. But many currently available plant-based goods only claim that they are compostable in industrial facilities, which generally reach higher temperatures than home composters.

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