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France: A more realistic plan to eliminate plastic packaging

The fresh market potato sector has presented an operational and ambitious “plan to eliminate plastic packaging” to the French government, for a gradual end of plastic packaging according to a realistic timetable. Professionals are alarmed by the deadlines imposed by the decree to implement Article 77 of the anti-waste law for a circular economy, which was published on Tuesday October 12th 2021 and does not take sufficient account of the sector’s constraints.

During various meetings in recent months, CNIPT presented its work and the constraints the sector is faced with in the context of the sanitary crisis which required to remain focused in order to supply French consumers in the best possible conditions (volume, quality and price) and prohibited any prospective. 

The decree imposes total application as of January 1st 2022 although the work indicated the necessary delays for a gradual transition (80%, then 100%).

The plastic packaging that was already ordered and is in stock may be used for up to 6 months following the start of the implementation of the decree, but this decision of economic justice will not solve the dramatic situations the sector will be faced with.

The 2021-2022 campaign is already launched, so the sector is asking French authorities for a realistic delay of application until the end of the current campaign, which is the 15th of August 2022, in order to sell the already harvested products and the packaging still in stock.

For the sector, it seems as if the government did not take into account the considerable efforts already made in terms of research and development of alternative packaging. The government also did not take into account the constraints the sector is faced with: investments, costs, availability of raw materials (paper, cardboard, wood…), delays from manufacturers and packing machine installers, in order to meet the precipitous demands of the potato, fruit and vegetable sectors.

The French government, through the voice of Julien Denormandie, has said on other issues: our position is always the same, “no ban without alternatives”. However, for many products, the sector has no alternative to plastic packaging in the delays imposed by the law, so it is at a dead end. How to meet the requirements of the law for all products of less than 1.5kg by January 1st?

The sector wants to keep supplying French and European consumers with quality products, in quantity and at the best price. Consumers want healthy and tasty potatoes, sold in packaging that is adapted to their lifestyle, easy to carry, in which the products are clearly visible to ensure their integrity, quickly identifiable in terms of culinary aptitude and fitting their budget. Let’s hope that the new provisions of the AGEC law, which will bring huge changes on the shelves, does not turn them away from their favorite vegetable with all the consequences that this could have on a sector that is essential for French food sovereignty.

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