Finally world leaders are listening — let’s hope it’s not too late. This week France was the first country to ban disposable plastic cups and plates in an attempt to curb the obscene amounts of plastic waste that’s accumulating in the oceans.
The new French law will require all disposable tableware to be made from 50% biologically-sourced materials that can be composted at home by January of 2020. That number will rise to 60% by January of 2025.
One hundred and fifty single-use cups are thrown away every second in the country — 4.73 billion per year, according to the French Association of Health and Environment, ASEF. Only 1% of them is recycled, largely because they are made of a mixture of polypropylene and polystyrene.
France hopes to become a world leader in environmental and energy solutions, catalyzed by the COP21 Climate Change conference held in Paris last December. In July, the country imposed a total ban on the distribution of lightweight plastic bags at supermarket checkouts, a measure already in place in several countries.
It is of no surprise the industry association representing Europe’s leading food-packaging manufacturers, said that the measure violates EU law on the free movement of goods and has asked the EU Commission to block the French law. It’s consulting with lawyers about taking legal action against France.
Plastic pollution has devastating environmental implications. Scientists’ projected estimates of the amount of plastic in oceans range from one ton of plastic per two tons of fish by 2050 to more than 50 percent plastic.
Plastic pollution is a problem we can all do something about. Be a conscious consumer. Take reusable shopping bags with you when shopping. If you purchase in bulk, take your own containers. And when you purchase coffee or tea bring your own cup.