Fruits and vegetables survive for months outside in all conditions and remain perfectly intact because they typically have an outer layer. If this is the case, what changes when these foods are plucked from their trees or vines and moved into a store? The answer is nothing except an additional and unnecessary piece of plastic. In France, 37% of all fruits and vegetables are sold with plastic wrapping but they are now realizing this is a precautionary step everyone purchasing this produce can live without. Starting with around 30 items in 2022, France is creating a ban on all plastic “waste” wrapping.
You may be thinking what I first thought when I read this: how much a difference will it really make if only 37% of produce has this packaging in the first place and it is only being taken off 30 items for now. According to Independent, this ban will help cut more than 1 billion pieces of plastic waste in the year 2022 alone. This ban is also just the beginning of a plastic packaging ban on fruits and vegetables that will move in phases and conclude in the year 2026. In January 2021, France imposed a plastic ban on straws, cups, cutlery, and styrofoam takeaway boxes that is still in place.
Cockburn, the author of the Independent article has done a good job with including facts straight from the Environment Ministry in France. This helps to eliminate some bias and provide readers with accurate knowledge on what will be affected by the ban. He also mentions two different sides on how people feel about this ban. The Environment Ministry is ready for this to come into place because they believe in a circular economy and brining a rise to reusable and recyclable packaging. Francois Roch, the president of the French Fruit Sellers federation, has a different outlook. Although it is possible, he believes it will be a hard and long process to find sustainable swaps. He also fears this ban will turn people away from buying unpackaged produce because they may worry about other people touching the produce before they buy it.
Although there are some setbacks, such as accessibility to plastic-free packaging, this hopefully provides some companies the motivation to step up to the plate and create something recyclable so that they can further build up and grow their company, as well as impact the Earth in a more positive way.
Even though this is a four year plan, there always has to be a starting point before you can get to the finish line. France is taking a leap of faith into the journey to becoming a plastic free country one step at a time. With the numerous plastic alternatives out there, such as cardboard packaging or reusable bags, I think every country should try to take the initiative and follow in France’s footsteps. During my lifetime, I am excited to see how this plastic ban in France progresses, as well how many other plastic bans and packaging changes occur so that the Earth can continue thriving for generations to come.