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The decree to ban single-use plastic packaging in France raises questions

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Putting an end to single-use plastic packaging by 2040: this is the objective that France has set for itself. On the other hand, the effectiveness of the decree in question could well leave something to be desired. The point is that this is not binding on companies.

A rather ambitious goal

The anti-waste law for a circular economy of February 10, 2020 provides many levers of action. The first is obviously to take it out of the disposable plastic. Then comes information for consumers, the fight against waste and solidarity reuse. Other points concern planned obsolescence and the search for more viable ways of producing.

Within the framework of this law, we also find the decree 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle), explained in a publication from the Ministry of Ecological Transition on May 4, 2021. The least we can say is that the objective is rather ambitious: to completely get out of single-use plastic packaging by 2040.

However, the stakes are high since each year in France, no less than 2.2 million tonnes of packaging Single-use plastics are hitting the market. This packaging concerns both businesses and individuals. Unfortunately, their reuse is currently underdeveloped and their recycling rate remains quite low (27%).

Credit: vedatzorluer / Pixabay

A potentially unnecessary decree?

The 3R decree provides for a smooth transition via three intermediate stages which should be implemented by 2025. The first step is to reduce single-use plastic packaging by 20% before waiting for a target of 100% recycled packaging and therefore recyclable (without forget about reusable packaging). Finally, the decree provides for an end to packaging that may be deemed unnecessary, that is to say overpack. According to the decree, this unnecessary packaging concerns, for example, plastic blisters around batteries and bulbs.

While in theory this measure seems welcome, care must be taken not to claim victory too quickly. The point is that the decree in question is not really binding on companies. Indeed, you should know that this one is based on voluntary service.

In its defense, the Ministry of Ecological Transition explained that: “ to be in accordance with the free movement of goods, there is no prohibition or sanction and these are collective objectives “. In other words, it is impossible to impose on foreign companies a measure that does not exist in their country of origin. Thus, the decree does not foresee either sanctioning French companies, obviously to avoid destabilizing them on a European / international level.


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