French National Assembly adopts new circular economy measures

Author: Linda Naylor

2020/01/23

LONDON (ICIS)--French policymakers this week are understood to have backed a raft of new measures to reduce plastic waste, including a ban on single-use materials by 2040.

French deputies adopted the “projet de loi” concerning the struggle against waste and also the circular economy by 227 votes to 10, with 15 abstentions, on Tuesday evening, after it began its journey more than two years ago.

The vote will now be definitively adopted by the Senate on 30 January.

The assembly’s acceptance was of little surprise to delegates at a summit organised for polymers buyers in the country organised by the Federation de la Plasturgie et des Composites.

On Wednesday they were beginning to digest what this would mean for the industry, but also for the consumer.

“This comes as no surprise,” said one converter at the Plasturgie meeting. “We will just do what we have to do.”

Others implied this would be a difficult task to realise.

According to press reports, the law encompasses ideas bandied about for some while now:

  • Single use plastic to be banned by 2040
  • Repair index to be introduced on electric and electronic goods
  • Abolition of the practice of destroying non-food unsold goods
  • Systematic phasing out of automatic paper receipts at the till – immediately for a value below 10 euros, progressively for higher values
  • Introduction of deposit schemes for the recycling of plastic bottles, targeting 100% plastic recycling by 2025
  • No single use plastic in fast food outlets by 2023
  • Introduction of medicines to be sold singly by 2022, to avoid the current wastage of medicines
  • Extension of the polluter-payer principle for toys, cigarettes, sports and leisure articles, DIY and gardening articles“[We are] leaving a throwaway society for one that reuses,” secretary of state Brune Poirson on a French TV interview. (Translated from the original).

“To walk away from a throwaway society, we need a more systematic approach… in this anti-waste law, we are creating conditions to develop le vrac [non-packaged products], to repair objects, to fight against planned obsolescence,” she added.

There have been voices for and against this law, with some involved in the industry complaining about the cost of some of the proposed schemes- such as deposit schemes- and others saying it doesn’t go far enough, quickly enough.

The World Wildlife Fund expressed disappointment over the new project.

“Unfortunately these measures remain insufficient in the face of the magnitude of the plastics crisis,” it said on its website. “Together we can continue to mobilise to eliminate plastics from nature by 2030.”

China is also set to ban or restrict production, sales and use of disposable plastic products via three stages in the next five years, according to an instruction jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, also this week.

Front page image source: PhotoAlto/REX/Shutterstock