The world produces about 330 million tons of plastic waste every year, half of which is designed to be used only once. Food packaging is a huge culprit. France is taking steps to tackle the problem, by instituting a ban on plastic wrap for fruits and vegetables.
As of January 1, stores and other shops are no longer allowed to wrap 30 types of produce in plastic. That includes cucumbers, bananas, pears, lemons, oranges, and kiwis. Additionally, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and leeks will not be allowed in plastic packaging.
There are some exemptions, including packages over 3.3 pounds, chopped fruit, or processed fruit. Those who sell soft fruits like berries are also allowed time to search for alternatives. However, plastic packaging will be banned for all whole fruits and vegetables by 2026.
France’s environmental ministry said in a statement, “We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives. The circular economy law aims at cutting back the use of throwaway plastic and boost its substitution by other materials or reusable and recyclable packaging.”
Targeting produce will likely lead to a sizable reduction in plastic pollution, as an estimated 37% of fruits and vegetables sold in France in 2021 were wrapped in plastic. Government officials say the change should lead to more than a billion fewer single-use plastic packaging units each year.
It isn’t just produce being targeted, though. Beginning in 2021, France banned plastic straws, cups, and cutlery, in addition to styrofoam take out boxes. In an effort to minimize plastic bottle production, public spaces are also now required to provide water fountains. Other policies of note are bans on free plastic toys at fast food restaurants and plastic wrap in news publication shipments.
WWF France is happy to see these steps but says more needs to be done.
Pierre Cannet, the organization’s director of advocacy and campaigns, says, “We need to stay humble and vigilant by saying there is still a lot to do. We’re still very far from an economy without plastic, and from all the steps needed to eradicate plastics pollution.”
Would you like to do your part to tackle the problem? You can sign this petition asking your governor to outlaw single-use plastic bottles in your state.Whizzco