France is taking drastic measures against plastic waste: as of next year, dozens of fruits and vegetables can no longer be wrapped in plastic.
The ban on plastic packaging will initially apply to some thirty types of fruit and vegetables, including leeks, courgettes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, pears and bananas. However, plastic will continue to be allowed for products packaged in batches of 1.5 kg or more.
The new rules are merely the first step, as the French Minister for Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, also wants to ban any other packaging by 2026. For some fruits and vegetables, there is no plastic-free alternative yet, so producers are given more time to develop new types of packaging. The exceptions include cherries, lettuce, raspberries, strawberries, spinach and herbs.
Increasing bulk tenfold
Today, 37 % of fruit and vegetables in French stores are sold pre-packed, French economics magazine Capital reports. France has set a target to phase out single-use plastic by 2040. To achieve this, a fifth of the products in large and medium-sized stores will have to be sold in bulk by 2030, compared to barely 2 % today.
In Belgium, too, new measures against plastic will soon be in place, though they are much less far-reaching than those in France. For example, plastic bags will disappear from stores for good, as will plastic cups, plates, straws and stir sticks. A complete ban on plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables, however, is not on the cards in Belgium for the time being.
A need for research
Trade organisation Comeos points out that Belgian supermarket chains have already made considerable efforts to reduce plastic packaging as much as possible. For example, various retailers have introduced paper bags or reusable bags in the fruit and vegetable section.
The sector federation also asks for more research on plastic wrapping around fruit and vegetables. "For cucumbers, for example, it has been shown that plastic packaging keeps the vegetable fresh three times longer. A strict, rigid ban on plastic for all types of vegetables and fruit could lead to food waste", spokesperson Hans Cardyn told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.