plastic waste

France to ban plastic packaging of fruits and vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables in French supermarkets are sold wrapped in plastic. As of January 2022, the packaging will be phased out.
Many fruits and vegetables in French supermarkets are sold wrapped in plastic. As of January 2022, the packaging will be phased out. © Eric Vidal/Reuters

France has published a list of about 30 fruits and vegetables that will be required to be sold without plastic packaging from 1 January 2022, part of the implementation of a circular economy passed in 2020 aimed at reducing single-use plastic.

Advertising

"We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives," the economy, ecological transition and agriculture ministries in a statement, where they estimate some 37 per cent of fruit and vegetables are packaged in France.

According to the Henrich Boll foundation, packaging represents 45.5 per cent of France’s plastic consumption.

No longer allowed to be sold in plastic as of January 2022:

Vegetables: leaks, courgettes, aubergines, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, cauliflowers, squashes as well as potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes, Jerusalem artichokes and other root vegetables

Fruits: apples, pears, kiwis, plums, pineapples, mangos, passion fruits, persimmons as well as oranges, clementines, mandarins, lemons, grapefruits and other citrus

Produce sellers are pushing back against the ban, saying that food packaging represents a small percentage of plastic packaging in France.

They say the switch could be difficult, as customers do not want their produce touched by customers, and cardboard is not as sturdy.

Some delicate items will still be allowed to be sold in plastic, to be phased out by end of June 2026.

Timeline for plastic packaging ban:

June 2023: fragile tomatoes, new onions and turnips, Brussels sprouts, green beans, grapes, peaches, nectarines and apricots

December 2024: endives, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, new potatoes and carrots, greens, spinach, sorrel, herbs, edible flowers, cherries cranberries, some salads and herbs, cherries, cranberries and gooseberries

June 2026: very ripe fruit, berries, sprouts

The packaging ban is part of a multi-year programme to phase out plastic in France, where plastic straws, cups and cutlery, as well as styrofoam takeaway boxes were banned last year. Disposable plates used to consume meals on site in fast-food restaurants will be banned in January 2023.

As of next year, public facilities must provide water fountains to reduce the use of plastic water bottles, fast-food restaurants can no longer offer free plastic toys, and publications must be shipped without plastic wrapping.

(with wires)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning