France’s national government fired the first cannon shot in September 2016 with a new law banning single-use plastic dishware, including disposable plastic utensils.
As part of France’s growing efforts to combat climate change, this ban goes into effect in 2020, allowing producers time to comply. This is BIG news for a country that has practically invented the pleinair French picnic in the countryside - which often includes disposable dishware for sheer convenience. Will other European countries follow France’s lead? I believe this is a question of when and not if.
As we have morphed into consumers of convenience and bought into a ‘take-out nation’ mentality, it’s no surprise how prevalent disposable plastic utensils and dishware have become in our everyday lives. Disposable plastic cutlery has offered businesses an easy solution when wanting to offer fast, easy, and inexpensive options for eating in or taking out with no cleanup or dishes to wash. Yet this has all come at a huge cost to the environment.
Some groups in France and European trade groups have complained that this new legislation violates EU laws on free movement of goods and can be more severe for low-income families who rely more on take out meals and single-use utensils. We can expect to see more rapid innovation in terms of compostable consumer packaging solutions.
In California, we saw the plastic manufacturers lobby spend large sums of money to try to defeat the statewide initiative to ban all plastic bags. More extreme lobbying tactics from the plastics industry might come into play if states or the US federal government were to implement a ban on all single-use plastic utensils and dishware.