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France puts ban on all plastic plates, cups and utensils



France has become the first country to ban all plastic plates, cups and utensils. The ban will come into effect by 2020 in order to give manufacturers time to adjust. Replacement materials will need to be biologically sourced and compostable.

The announcement comes after France put a total ban on plastic shopping bags from supermarket checkouts in July this year. This will be followed by a ban of plastic bags from fruit and vegetable departments from 1st January 2017.

By 2020 according to the new laws, 50 per cent of all materials used to produce plastic plates, cups and utensils will need to be organic and compostable. By 2025 this will increase to 60 per cent organic material in such items.

The ban on plastics is part of the country’s Energy Transition for Green Growth Act. The act was introduced last year and aims to help France become a world leader in environmentally friendly practices and reducing greenhouse emissions.

European packing manufactures are opposing the new law. According to Pack2Go Europe, an organisation which represents European packing manufactures, the new laws infringe on manufactures rights. "We are urging the European Commission to do the right thing and to take legal action against France for infringing European law," Pack2Go Europe secretary general Eamonn Bates told the Associated Press. "If they don't, we will."

It is estimated that French citizens throw away 150 single use cups every second which equates to 4.73 billion per year (French Association of Health and Environment). Out of these, only 1 per cent is recycled. It is also estimated that worldwide plastic production is 20 times higher than it was 50 years ago and is expected to double again in the next 20 years (World Economic Forum).

These are startling figures especially when considered that 95 per cent of plastic is thrown out after just one use and only 14 per cent is recycled. The rest is either dumped on landfill or littered which eventually finds its way into waterways. As a result, the World Economic Forum predicts that in the next 35 years the amount of plastic in our oceans will outweigh the number of fish.

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