September 19th, 2016
France will become the first country in the world to ban all plastic cups and dishes when it comes in 2020.
A new law was passed last month to make all dishware to be biodegradable and made of biological materials.
This ban follows on from their ban on plastic bags last year. The aim is to reduce significantly the energy used and the waste produced by the plastic industry to reach European environmental targets.
Ireland can easily copy France with such a ban. Ireland led the world when it introduced the plastic bag levy in 2002.
These measure had an immediate effect on plastic bags consumption since it resulted a decrease of 90% in the number of plastic bags used in the country. Given that 1.2 billion plastic bags was using each year before 2002.
Reuse bags have largely replaced disposable plastic bags today. The effect on consumer behaviour was fast with a decrease from 328 bags per capita to 21 bags per capita in the first few months after introducing the levy. After this success, the government decided in 2007 to increase the latter from 15c to 22c per bag. This decision strongly encourages consumers to bring their own bags when they are going shopping.
This measure is one of the most important in the Irish environmental policy. Despite the success of the policy Irish governments have not continued to pioneer initiatives that reduce waste and embrace the polluter pays principle.
Plastic litter pollution is considerable and European countries aim to reduce it so as to reach their sustainable goals for 2020. Some opponents of the law denounce the financial struggle for families who use regularly plastic dishes. In addition, it will make no sense if consumers believe that packaging will be leaving in nature since they will be easily bio-degradable.