On January 1, 2022, a ban on single-use plastic packaging for the sale of approximately 30 types of fruits and vegetables took effect in France. The ban serves to implement part of a February 2020 law aimed at fighting against waste and promoting a circular economy.
The government issued a decree on October 8, 2021, providing more detail on the implementation of the ban. Specifically, the decree established a phased implementation of the ban on single-use plastic packaging, to begin on January 1, 2022, for about 30 types of fruits and vegetables, including leeks, bell peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, round tomatoes, apples, pears, oranges, clementines, pineapples, mangos, passion fruit, plums, and kiwis. However, the decree provides that produce vendors will be able to sell this produce in plastic packaging for up to six months after the ban takes effect so that any remaining stocks of plastic packaging may be used up. Additionally, the ban on plastic packaging will be delayed for some types of produce for which there is a particularly high risk of damage when it is sold as loose items. For example, the ban will come into force on June 30, 2023, for certain types of tomatoes (including cherry tomatoes), Brussels sprouts, green beans, grapes, nectarines, apricots, and a few others. Endives, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, lettuce, aromatic herbs, spinach, cherries, cranberries, gooseberries, and a few others may be sold in single-use plastic packaging until December 31, 2024, while berries (other than cranberries and gooseberries), fruits that are perfectly ripe, and germinated grains can be sold in such packaging until June 30, 2026.
Other plastic bans under the law against waste and for a circular economy came into force on January 1, 2022, as well: newspapers and advertising may no longer be mailed in plastic wrapping, tea sachets will no longer be made out of nonbiodegradable plastic, restaurants are no longer allowed to offer free plastic toys as part of children’s menus, labels affixed directly onto fruits and vegetables must now be made of compostable material, and locales that are open to the public must now have at least one accessible drinking water fountain to help cut back on the use of plastic water bottles. These measures are meant to reduce plastic usage and pollution, as an estimated 45.5% of plastic use in France goes to making packaging, while an estimated 37% of fruits and vegetables were sold in single-use plastic packaging before January 1, 2022.