Traditional picnic hampers may be about to undergo a boom in France after the government banned plastic plates, goblets and cutlery yesterday.
In an attempt to reduce pollution, ministers decreed that 50 per cent of the material going into all such items will have to be organic by 2020. The proportion will rise to 60 per cent by 2025. The move comes after the Socialist-led government introduced similar bans on plastic bags and cotton buds.
The move signals sweeping change for a picnic-loving country that has become accustomed to consuming wine in plastic cups whilst eating a salade nicoise off a plastic plate during the summer months.
Bakers and fast-food outlets distributing plastic knives and forks with take-away meals will also be affected.
France discarded 4.73 billion plastic goblets last year.
Manufacturers say it is difficult to produce biodegradable cups and plates capable of containing hot food and drink. Some of the attempts have ended with plates that disintegrate and cups that leak.
One technique involves using starch, vegetable fibres and proteins. Another company is exploring the use of flour.
Makers say the new products will be more expensive than existing ranges, prompting analysts to bet on a return of the traditional hamper with reusable crockery.
The ban is part of President Francois Hollande’s attempt to boost his green credentials despite falling out with the Ecology Party and infuriating organisations such as Greenpeace with his commitment to nuclear power. In July, for instance, shops were banned from handing out thin plastic bags.
The bags they distribute must now be at least 50 microns in thickness, which means, in theory, that they can be re-used. Next year the ban will be extended to the plastic bags into which customers place fruit and vegetables in supermarkets. Plastic cotton buds will be phased out by 2020.