France bans plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables

France is taking decisive measures to reduce plastic: starting January 2022, plastic packaging will be banned for 30 types of common fruits and vegetables sold in batches of less than 1.5 kg.

In the new year, vegetables such as leeks, aubergines, courgettes and potatoes may no longer be wrapped in plastic. The same applies to fruits such as apples, pears and oranges. A few vulnerable fruits, as well as cut fruit, are currently exempt from the ban: raspberries and other berries can still be packaged in plastic to reduce spoilage.

France is planning on phasing out plastic on nearly all produce. Cherry tomatoes, green beans and peaches need to wait until 2023, while in 2025 endives, asparagus, mushrooms, and some salads and herbs will get their turn. By 2026 no fruit or vegetables may be packed in plastic.

It is currently estimated that 37% of produce are sold in packaging, and it is expected that these new measures will prevent more than one billion single-use plastic packages per year.

Of course plastic packaging serves a purpose. Not only is it convenient and cheap, it can prevent food from getting damaged. Other single-use packaging can take over that role, however paper, metal, and glass are not necessarily less of a burden on the environment. Campaigners will consider the ban of plastic a success if consumers adopt new habits, rather than if the produce is repackaged in a different kind of single-use packaging such as paper or cardboard.

This will mean that consumers need to change their shopping behaviour by bringing their own bags or containers for loose vegetables and fruit.

Earlier this year Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn removed single-use plastic bags from their vegetable and fruit section, and encourages consumers to bring their own or buy reusable nylon bags.

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