As of January 2022, France will ban plastic packaging for nearly all fruits and vegetables in a bid to reduce plastic waste.
The news was announced by the environment ministry on Monday. Implementing a February 2020 law, the government published a list of around 30 fruits and vegetables that will be sold without plastic packaging from January 1. The list includes leeks, aubergines, tomatoes, apples, bananas, and oranges.
The ministry stated, ‘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’.
Roughly 37% of fresh produce is sold with packaging. The ministry expects that this measure will prevent over one billion useless plastic packaging items annually.
However, French fruit sellers federation president Francois Roch remarked that switching to cardboard will be hard in such short notice. ‘Also, selling loose produce is complicated as many customers touch the fruit and people do not want their fruit to be touched by other customers,’ she added.
The packaging ban comes as part of a multi-year program to phase out plastic. This year, France banned plastic straws, cups, cutlery, and Styrofoam takeout boxes.
Only a limited number of delicate fruits and vegetables may still be sold with plastic packaging for now, but that will be phased out by end June 2026. By June 2023, plastic packaging will be banned for cherry tomatoes, green beans, and peaches. By end 2024, packaging will also be banned for endives, asparagus, mushrooms, salads, herbs, and cherries. End June 2026, raspberries, strawberries, and other delicate berries must be sold without plastic.
Next year, public spaces will also be expected to provide water fountains in an effort to reduce the demand for plastic bottles. Press and publicity publications must also be shipped without plastic wrapping, and fast-food chains may no longer offer plastic toys.