France to ban plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables

The French Government recently announced its plans to ban the sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging. The decree forms part of France’s Anti-waste Law, which aims to eliminate waste in the country and create a circular economy.

The decree is set to come into force from 1 January 2022, implementing a phased ban on the sale of unprocessed, fresh fruits and vegetables wrapped in plastic. Around 30 fruits and vegetables will be included in the ban, with the French Government stating that plastic packaging will be reduced by an estimated one billion units per year.

Fruit and vegetables on a market stallThe law will be applied gradually until 30 June 2026, giving plastic manufacturers time to find alternative packaging solutions. The French Government will also allow a tolerance period of six months, wherein the disposal of packaging stocks will be allowed.

For certain products, the ban will be implemented to a shorter deadline. The sale of salads, spinach, chicory, asparagus and mushrooms in plastic packaging will be banned from 31 December 2024, and an even shorter deadline of 30 June 2023 is set for ribbed tomatoes, peaches and nectarines.

Products sold in bulk – including quantities of 1.5kg or more – and those that present a risk of deterioration sold in bulk, such as raspberries, strawberries, currants, blueberries, ripe fruit and germinated seeds, will be exempt from the decree.

France adopted its Anti-waste Law in 2020, aiming to comprehensively reduce waste and pollution in product design and shift towards a circular economy. Amongst the policies are measures designed to phase out single-use packaging by 2040; advocate a better resource management system; and encourage reuse in producers and consumers.

The law is set to develop over the next few years, with proposed measures particularly affecting the hospitality industry. The French Government has outlined plans to ban plastic games in fast food meals from 2022, with fast food restaurants also required from 2023 to issue reusable dishes for all meals and drinks served on site.

The Anti-waste Law also sets out targets for the packaging industry, requiring five per cent of all packaging to be reused by 2023, and 10 per cent by 2027. Additionally, the Climate and Resilience Law will require 20 per cent of all medium and large products to be sold in bulk by 2030.