In France, party hosts soon won’t be able to put out plastic plates to cut down on cleanup. Picnickers won’t be able to drink wine from plastic cups. Offices will not be permitted to put out plastic silverware for employees.
That’s because the country has implemented a controversial new law that will require all disposable dishware in France to be compostable and made of biologically sourced materials.
According to the AP, the measure took effect last month, and gives producers of disposable cups, plates and silverware four years (until 2020) to start making all of their products compostable. The law follows a ban on plastic bags, which the country put into place in July.
Similar bans on plastic bags are becoming increasingly common — California passed a law banning plastic bags in 2014 (though a proposition currently on the ballot could repeal the legislation), and New York’s Suffolk County approved a five-cent fee for plastic bags earlier this month. France is the first country to extend the plastic ban to dishware, but the move could lead other cities or regions to follow suit.
According to the AP, opponents of the ban ague that it violates European Union policies governing the free movement of goods, and could even encourage people to leave compostable dishware behind after picnics if they think it will biodegrade. If true, that would certainly be a problem, since even compostable plastic bottles and bags can linger as litter in the ocean.
But environmentalists are applauding the ban, since it requires that plastic products be able to decompose in small domestic composting units. Home composting isn’t yet mandatory in France.
If the French policy catches on, the end of plastic cups and plates could be in sight.