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France bans single-use bags; provides boost to bio-based alternatives.

Carrefour_ShopperShoppers in France will no longer be able to receive single-use plastic bags from July 1, the countrys Environment Ministry has announced. Originally scheduled for 1 January 2016, the ban on the bags in France has been put off until 1 July 2016, to give shopkeepers and suppliers time to use up their stock. France is one of the first European countries to take concrete measures on single-use carrier bags in favour of bio-based and compostable bags in an effort to comply with European Directives.

An estimated 100 billion are used a year in Europe. Plastic bags can choke or poison animals, with marine wildlife particularly vulnerable, consume resources, including oil, in their creation and even when disposed responsibly can take 1,000 years to decompose.They are also manufactured almost exclusively in China, so offer little to the European economy.

European Bioplastics (EUBP), the association representing the bioplastics industry in Europe, welcomes the approval of the French implementation decree on single-use plastic bags. The decree sets out clear requirements for the reduction of single-use plastic bags in favour of bio-based alternatives: bio-based, biodegradable and home-compostable bags. 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, the announcement that France bans single-use bags came as part of the new law on Energy Transition and Green Growth. An implementation decree setting out the requirements and conditions in greater detail has now been approved and will come into effect on 1 July 2016. The decree applies to single-use carrier bags 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 stakeholders 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.

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