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ENVIRONMENT

From takeways to coffee cups: Here’s what France’s new anti-waste law means

An anti-waste law that aims to cut down waste, end single-use plastics and boost recycling came into effect in France on January 1st. Here's what changes.

From takeways to coffee cups: Here's what France's new anti-waste law means
The sale of single-use plastic products such as straws, stirrers and plastic plates is now banned in France. Photo: AFP

The loi relative à la lutte contre le gaspillage et a l’économie circulaire (anti-waste and ruse-use economy law) officially came into force on February 11th 2020 with a target of zero single-use plastics by 2040.

But its changes were introduced gradually to give businesses time to prepare, with a new tranche of rules coming into effect from January 1st 2021.

They are:
  • Throwing away non-hazardous waste that can be recycled (eg. plastics, cardboard, green waste) is being gradually prohibited.

  • Aggressive advertising prohibited outside of sales, in an attempt to cut consumption. In reality France's laws on sales and discounting are already pretty strict, but this further limits them.

  • New single-use plastic products are banned, whether they are entirely or just partly composed of plastic. This includes plates and cutlery, straws, stirrers, expanded polystyrene boxes (such as those used for take-aways or at fast food restaurants), lids used for take-away cups, plastic confetti and all objects made of oxo degradable plastic.

  • Distribution of free plastic bottles in companies or public events is prohibited.

  • Recycling containers have to be placed in supermarkets to allow customers to dispose of the packaging of their products.

  • The production and distribution of single-use plastic bags is 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 have to provide reusable containers (free or paying)

  • Bulk retailers have to accept containers brought in by consumers

  • Distributing promotional gifts in mailboxes is prohibited

  • A network of drinking water fountains will be created in an attempt to cut the use of plastic bottles

A ban on plastic cups and Q-tips came into effect last year, thanks to a 2016 law on biodiversity, aimed at reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in the oceans.

Meanwhile, a ban on plastic wrapping for fruit and vegetables has been postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

From July, all restaurants will have to allow customers to bring their own containers for take-aways and doggy bags.

 

Member comments

  1. Some of these laws are unenforceable but no matter, they send a clear message and promote awareness.

  2. Those who complain about the myriad laws under which we live should remember that you can tell what citizens are doing wrong by the laws passed against it. In other words, there are no laws against keeping giraffes on your property, because people don’t do it. There are laws against texting while driving, because people do it.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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