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France Just Banned Plastic Cups and Cutlery

France is thought to be the first country in the world to introduce a ban on disposable cups, plates, knives, and forks in a bid to cut waste.
Photo via Flickr user Twentyfour Students

Half the fun of an al fresco lunch is the challenge of steadying a slice of quiche, three sausage rolls, and a squashed crisp sandwich on a precariously balanced plastic plate, all while inexpertly stabbing at a rogue cherry tomato with a disposable spork.

But plastic cutlery and Solo cups of warm Chardonnay could soon be a distant memory for picnickers in France. It emerged yesterday that single-use cups, plates, knives, and forks are to be banned throughout the country in a bid to reduce plastic production and pollution from waste.


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The measure formed part of the country's Energy Transition For Green Growth bill in 2015 and came in effect last month. But it won't be formally adopted until 2020, giving manufacturers time to ensure future disposable products are made from biologically sourced materials, as well as being compostable. According to The Local, 4.73 billion plastic cups are currently thrown away in France every year, with only 1 percent recycled.

The measure may be good news for the environment, but not everyone in France is happy.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Pack2Go, a Brussels-based European convenience packaging manufacturers organisation, accused the French Government of violating European Union laws on the free movement of goods.

Eamonn Bates, Pack2Go's secretary general, said: "We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law. If they don't, we will."

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The French Environment Ministry is yet to respond to Pack2Go's comments but the ban looks set to go ahead as part of France's continued efforts to reduce waste sent to landfill by 50 percent by 2025. The country also introduced laws requiring supermarkets to donate unsold food to charity in February and banned single-use plastic bags in July.

Slightly heavier picnic hampers seem like a small price to pay to save the environment.