France: A Revolutionary Pioneer in the "End of Plastic" Movement
(Summary description)The French Republic, as the second-largest European economy, produces up to 4.73 billion discarded plastic cups annually, but only 1% of them are recycled! This staggering amount of disposable plastics not only affects the appearance of the city but also inflicts harm to the natural environment. Due to this situation, the French authorities realize that tackling plastic pollution has become a top priority.
- Time of issue:2023-03-16 14:52
The French Republic, as the second-largest European economy, produces up to 4.73 billion discarded plastic cups annually, but only 1% of them are recycled! This staggering amount of disposable plastics not only affects the appearance of the city but also inflicts harm to the natural environment. Due to this situation, the French authorities realize that tackling plastic pollution has become a top priority.
Opportunities for Change: The Most Important International Consensus, Paris Agreement
In 2015, as the Kyoto Protocol was nearing its expiration, 195 signatories unanimously agreed to sign the Paris Agreement at the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) held in Paris, France. The objective of this agreement was to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent further intensification of global warming. This meeting was undoubtedly a milestone in the history of climate conferences due to the most significant international agreement in environmental protection.
As the host country, France took advantage of the local attention attracted by the Conference and initiated a series of policies to reduce plastic waste.
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Global Leader of the Plastic Restriction: Comprehensive Policies Enactment
After COP21, the French government released new regulations on the plastic decline in the summer of 2016, officially prohibiting the usage of plastic bowls, plates and cutlery from 2020. In addition, other disposable plastic products, such as straws, drink cups and Styrofoam takeaway lunch boxes, were also included in the prohibited list in the next few years.
Starting in early 2022, French officials continually banned plastic packaging for most fruits and vegetables, covering over 30 items, including vegetables, tomatoes, apples and more. This regulation is expected to reduce the use of single-use plastic packaging by approximately 1 billion units annually. Additionally, since July 2022, the authorities have implemented multiple methods to control plastic use, including installing drinking fountains in public spaces to reduce the consumption of plastic bottles and prohibiting fast-food restaurants from providing plastic toys.
All the measures are anticipated to eliminate all disposable plastics by 2040.
A Successful Reduction in Plastic Use? Hidden Dangers in Drastic Measures
Through several policies, France has set an unrivaled benchmark for plastic restriction; however, different voices also expressed concerns about the procedure.
First, Freshfel Europe, the European fresh produce association, believes that the policies are too hasty to be executed, which may cause the supply of alternative packaging to be unable to satisfy the rapidly increasing market demand. Furthermore, European packaging manufacturers are also concerned that while biodegradable plastics seem to be a perfect substitute for traditional plastics, strict environmental requirements for their decomposition conditions may lead to more serious plastic pollution without proper recycling publicity. Lastly, the French Minister of the Environment has stated that most eco-friendly products or packaging are more expensive than plastic products, which may burden low-income families more.
Another Powerful Approach to Plastic Reduction! Innovative Technology Research and Development
Despite varying opinions on the announced policies by the government, the French people have demonstrated a cooperative attitude toward reducing plastic waste, indicating a high level of awareness and consensus on the plastic decline issue. Moreover, enterprises have also started investing in innovative technology, for example, using laser technology to print the information on the surface of fruits as an alternative to plastic labeling and packaging or exploring new enzymes to accelerate the efficiency of plastic decomposition. All efforts are aimed at achieving a plastic-free world as soon as possible.
With its unwavering stance and proactive policy implementation, France undoubtedly plays a pivotal role in setting a global standard for other nations to follow. We believe that with adequate preparations, the world will triumph in this "plastic revolution" and pave the way for a more sustainable future!
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