The new wording of the French implementation decree on single-use plastic bags, which was published by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy on 1 February 2016, sets out clear requirements for the reduction of single-use plastic bags in favour of bio-based, biodegradable and home-compostable bags, in line with the EU Directive.

Single-use plastic bags will be forbidden at cash registers in France as of 1 July 2016. From 1 January 2017 on, single-use plastic bags for other uses than at the cash register, including fruit and vegetable bags, that are below a thickness of 50 microns, will have be home-compostable and feature a bio-based content of at least 30 percent. “This is an important measure and supports the efforts of EUBP to emphasise the essential role of bioplastics for the circular economy in Europe,” says Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of EUBP.

In August last year, France introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags as part of the new law on Energy Transition and Green Growth. An implementation decree setting out the requirements and conditions in greater detail is now progressing to come into effect on 1 July 2016. The decree applies in particular to single-use bags other than cash register bags that are below a thickness of 50 microns, which will have to meet the requirements of the French standard for home composting and feature a bio-based content of at least 30 percent. The minimum bio-based content will increase progressively to 40 percent in 2018, 50 percent in 2020, and 60 percent in 2025.

Appropriate bioplastics materials have been readily available on the market for quite some time, and manufacturers are eagerly waiting in the wings. Christophe Doukhi-de Boissoudy, president of French association Club Bio-plastiques comments: “We welcome the mobilisation of public authorities in order to finally achieve such a measure. It will allow bio-based and biodegradable plastics stackeholders to harness the benefits of their research efforts to develop new biodegradable and compostable plastics that reduce our dependency on oil. The decree will help to reduce the plastic bags pollution as well as to revive economic activity for French plastics converters, as 90 percent of fruit and vegetable bags are currently being imported.”

The law makes France one of the first European countries taking concrete measures on plastic bags in favour of bio-based and compostable bags in an effort to comply with the European Directive to reduce the consumption of lightweight plastic bags. It also underpins the benefits of separate collection of organic waste with biodegradable and compostable bags. The draft decree was amended to take the notions of the European Commission and the French State Council into account. “We expect the French decree to serve as an example for European legislation and to contribute to the increased demand of sustainable bioplastic solutions,” von Pogrell concludes.