France to Ban Plastic Dishes by 2020, Decision Stirs Controversy


France just passed a law against plastic cups, cutlery, and plates. By 2020, the Energy Transition for Green Growth will go into effect and said plastics will start phasing out.

Should it be illegal to negatively impact climate change? Or should it be legal to sell harmful goods despite the detrimental environmental impact? Either way, French President Francois Hollande doesn’t care, he just wanted to generate more popularity for himself and paint a picture of a passionate, environmentally-aware president.

The ban on plastics is not only a bold move, but one that generates supporters and opponents. While many environmentalists support the ban, packaging organizations such as Pack2Go Europe are furious about the societal and environmental implications of using bio-based materials.   

The Pack2Go secretary general Eamonn Bates commented, “[The ban will] be understood by consumers to mean that it is OK to leave this packaging behind in the countryside after use because it’s easily bio-degradable in nature. That’s nonsense! It may even make the litter problem worse.”

Bates appears to believe that there is no environmental evidence in support of biologically-sourced materials over plastics. Well, he’s certainly wrong on that. But he is right in thinking that if individuals mistake biodegradable materials often labeled as biodegradable polymers (BDPs) as materials that can quite literally be thrown onto the ground, there’s going to be a problem.

Some biodegradable materials can be composted under controlled conditions to yield carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at an approved rate. These materials are made to be completely used up by microorganisms in order to achieve a healthy yield of carbon dioxide compatible with the carbon cycle instead of generating extra carbon dioxide that will harm the environment.

With France moving towards bio-based biodegradables, hopefully other countries will follow to cut down on landfill waste.

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