As an extension of the Energy Transition for Green Growth Act, a law was passed in France that will ban the use of disposable tableware like plastic plates, cups and cutlery nationwide by the year 2020.
According to the French Association of Health and Environment, one hundred and fifty disposable cups are thrown away every second in France, which adds up to 4.73 billion per year.
Only 1% of those cups are recycled, because the majority are made of a mixture of polypropylene and polystyrene, which are not biodegradable and harm the environment. An estimated eight million tons of plastic waste found its way to the world’s oceans in 2010 alone. In addition to environmental pollution, it causes serious problems for animals who mistake it for food.
France is the first country in the world to take this step towards sustainability and eco-friendly consumer practices. Ségolène Royal, French minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy is responsible for this development as well as the Green Growth Act from October of 2015.
The new law further stipulates that if disposable tableware is used, it will have to be made of at least 50% compostable, biologically-sourced materials by the year 2020, and 60% by 2026.
This comes after France put a total ban on plastic bags in supermarkets since July of this year.
Similar developments are taking place in the U.S., where the city of San Francisco recently banned the use of styrofoam or polystyrene foam packaging, and single use plastic bags were already banned since 2014.
Despite these progressive steps, many places still have a long way to go when it comes to protecting the environment from single-use plastic items. CNN reported that scientists at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands tested certain materials and found that although bio plastics are the most viable alternative to oil-based plastic products, more energy-efficient production has to be developed in order for them to be a sustainable replacement.
An entire country banning the use of plastic tableware, however, is a step in the right direction and sets a great example for many countries to follow. François Hollande wrote as the opening of The Energy Transition for Green Growth Act that it “embodies a great ambition: to make France – with a view to the Paris Climate Summit – an exemplary nation in terms of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, diversifying its energy model and increasing the deployment of renewable energy sources.”