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How France’s new anti-waste laws will affect you

How France's new anti-waste laws will affect you
The new rules aim to drastically cut the amount thrown away. Photo: AFP
The French government has passed far-reaching laws to try and cut down on waste and boost recycling levels. The laws have now been officially added to the statue books but will be introduced in phases. Here's what is happening and when.

The Loi relative à la lutte contre le gaspillage et à l'économie circulaire (law on the anti-waste and to a circular economy) officially came into force on February 11th, but its changes are introduced gradually to give businesses time to prepare.

The first tranche of rules doesn't come in until January 1st, 2021, but over this year you will likely see some businesses bringing in the changes.

Here's what the new law will outlaw and from when.

January 1st, 2021

  • Throwing away non-hazardous waste that can be recycled (eg plastics, cardboard, green waste) will be gradually prohibited
  • Aggressive advertising will be prohibited outside of sales in an attempt to cut consumption
  • New single-use plastic products will be banned. This includes straws, stirrers, lids for takeaway cups, expanded polystyrene boxes (such as kebab boxes), steak sticks, balloon rods, plastic confetti and all objects made of oxodegradable plastic
  • Distributing free plastic bottles in companies will be prohibited
  • Drinks served in a reusable cup presented by the customer must be sold at a cheaper price
  • Large businesses of more than 400 m2 will have to provide reusable containers (free or paying)
  • Bulk retailers will have to accept containers brought in by consumers
  • Distributing promotional gifts in mailboxes will be prohibited
  • A network of drinking water fountains will be created in an attempt to cut the use of plastic bottles
 
July 1st, 2021
 
  • Bringing your own reusable containers will be possible in restaurants and takeaways
 
January 1st, 2022
 
  • Plastic tea bags, plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables weighing less than 1.5 kg and plastic toys distributed free of charge in fast-food restaurants will be banned
  • Establishments that are open to the public will have to provide a water fountain
  • Plastic-wrapped newspapers or magazines will be prohibited
  • Labels on fruit and vegetables will be prohibited
 
January 1st, 2023
 
  • Disposable dishes in fast-food restaurants will be forbidden for meals served on site.
  • Printing and distributing receipts and credit card slips, unless specifically requested by the customer, will be prohibited
 
There will also be measures introduce to improve information for consumers about the environmental impact of their purchases. These include;
 
  • Improving information on the qualities and environmental characteristics of products that generate waste;
  • Providing information on the reparability of certain electrical and electronic equipment (such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners or lawnmowers);
  • Providing information on the availability or unavailability of spare parts needed to repair electrical and electronic equipment and furniture
  • Destroying (either by incineration or sending to landfill) unsold new non-food items (clothing, shoes, cosmetics) will be prohibited in order to encourage their reuse or recycling
  • Instructions for reuse and re-use (especially of plastic bottles) will be put in place
 
Although it's not included in the legislation, environmental activists have been campaigning hard to have promotions such as 'Black Friday' banned in France, arguing that it encourages needless consumerism and contributes to environmental damage.

Member comments

  1. Half of all plastic waste circulating on our planet today, mainly in the oceans degrading into microplastics, ending up in our food chain, is from mass single-use item consumption the past 2 decades. Point is, a life with less plastic (I am not saying 100% without plastics, especially in medicine) was very common not so long ago and we can all live very well without it. We just have to remember and learn some practices again. It’s not about taking away your conveniences and fun in life, it’s to protect our future as humankind. Because once the oceans are dead from plastics and microplastics we will ALL realize that plastics are not edible and neither is the freebie at McDo. Say no to plastics before you order, remind businesses of the new law, kindly but firmly and the transition to a sustainable, ecofriendly business is possible.

  2. This is excellent, congratulations France on showing us the way! These rules are common sense and take us to a more authentic sustainable way of living!

  3. I think all these are GREAT new rules – support them 100%.
    To Boggy – I object the idea of you having your Big Mac anyway – go home and cook some real food!

  4. Life’s not worth living then, What next? You have to reuse toilet paper by drying it on a line. These stipulations spell the death knell for a lot of small businesses. I object to being told I can’t have a free toy in my packet of cornflakes or with my big Mac.

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