Why Has France Banned Plastic Cups?
Sep 21 2016
Liberté, égalité, fraternité. France is a nation with a high cultural influence. From food and wine to fine art and literature, with all the philosophy, fashion and sports in between. France has got it all. But now it seems to be leading the way in a new sense. France has become the first country to announce a ban on plastic cups. Why? Read on for an insight into their latest pollution reduction method.
With a deadline of 2020 for businesses to oblige, the new law will see a full blanket ban on all plastic tableware. So not only will plastic cups be removed from the status quo, plastic dishes and even cutlery will be prohibited. It means the French will be saying au revoir to the stack of plastic cups at the office water fountain, and adieu to the handy plastic picnic sets. Yes, it could make life a bit less convenient for these situations, but what are the benefits?
Billions of cups each year
While most of us assume plastic is environmentally friendly, the statistics on recycling are definitely eye-opening. Only one percent of the 4.7 billion disposed plastic cups are actually recycled. Yes, 4.7 billion – in France alone! And the rest? They contribute to landfills (2.4 billion) or are incinerated (1.6 billion) emitting harmful pollutants.
Removing plastic cups from the equation of course removes a big chunk of waste accumulation. But given the purpose of these plastic cups and dishes, it also reduces the amount of littering across the landscape. As for an alternative, France will still allow plastic dishware if it is made from materials that can be conventionally composted.
Critics of the ban suggest the ‘bio-sourced’ alternative could actually worsen the littering problem. “It 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,” suggested Eamonn Bates, secretary general at Pack2Go Europe.
It’s not just plastic that causes a mass of waste accumulation at landfills. There are several materials that can be removed from the process. The European Union’s Landfill Directive now requires member states to divert any biodegradable municipal waste from landfills. It’s thought these biodegradables could contribute to at least 15% of the energy mix by 2020. The energy potential of bio-methane and EfW (energy from waste) are explored in ‘Renewable Energy, Landfill Gas and EfW: Now, Next and Future’.
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