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Plastic packaging: a plan but no sanctions to get rid of it in France

Jars of yogurt, envelopes of cold cuts: even thrown in the yellow sorting bins, they are hardly ever recycled. In an attempt to deplastify its consumption, France is adopting a roadmap aimed at reducing single-use plastic packaging by 20% by the end of 2025, the scope of which is criticized by the associative movement.

A decree, baptized “3R” (Reduce, reuse, recycle) published on April 30 by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, sets the course by recalling the final objective, completely withdrawing from single-use plastic packaging in 2040, set by a law of February 2020.

The decree concerns all products and all types of plastic, household, industrial or commercial packaging, including those qualified as biodegradable or bio-based.

In total, tubes of toothpaste, cans of detergent, fruit trays and all plastic packaging represent in France some 2.2 million tonnes placed on the market each year.

But, while the 2020 law aimed for a total ban in 2040, the implementing decree seems to soften its scope a little: it speaks of “aiming” towards a “100% reduction of single-use plastic packaging deemed unnecessary. like plastic blisters around batteries or bulbs, by 2025 “.

The decree also encourages reuse, second R of the decree, almost non-existent in France.

As regards yoghurt pots, which are widely consumed in France but in reality hardly ever recycled or reused even if they are collected in sorting bins, several manufacturers have recently shown closed-loop reuse projects (reuse of plastic pots). yoghurt for yogurt), according to the ministry, which does not however expect the sector to be operational before 2025.

As for the third R (Recycling), during his presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron had promised to achieve 100% recycling of plastics by 2025 in France.

However, the decree only provides for “moving” towards 100% recycling of single-use plastic packaging only “by January 1, 2025”, which involves the obligation to put recyclable materials on the market.

As the recycling rate for plastic packaging is currently very low in France, at only 27%, the room for improvement remains substantial, only plastic bottles actually being properly recycled.

– “Without control or sanction” –

Plastic bags float in the sea in Marseille on May 30, 2019 (AFP / Archives – Boris HORVAT)

The NGO Zero Waste declared itself on Tuesday “very disappointed” by this long-awaited decree, which it described as “incantatory”.

No control or sanction, no quota by sector … “This gives a disempowerment by objectives set for all”, told AFP Alice El Fassi, legal officer of the NGO.

“It stipulates targets by tonnage. However, setting targets by tonnage, that can mean lightening by plastics that are more flexible and lighter but not necessarily better recyclable!” she adds.

This decree “falls within the limits of the law and European law” the ministry is told to explain the absence of sanctions provided for against industrialists.

“But financial incentives” may intervene, we add.

In the absence of precise data on the volumes of plastic used by industry and commerce each year, the ministry is counting on a “reuse observatory” that Ademe will set up to record the progress made.

The objective is to carry out a first quantitative progress report on December 31, 2023, specifies a source at the ministry.

If the NGOs find that the movement is not going fast enough, the National Packaging Council has for its part published a 20-page document entitled “Why get carried away?”, Recalling that “packaging is essential to achieve certain products “,” for technological, regulatory or other reasons “: he cites in a jumble the industrial cheeses to be spread or” in a ripening bag “such as Emmental, pastries baked in their baking mold, Champagne or Cognac.

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