First they banned plastic bags all over the country in July, now they released a new regulation: starting from 2020, no disposable plastic cups, plates and cutlery can be distributed in France. This is part of the Energy Transition for Green Growth, the flagship of France's program to become the world leader in environmental and energy solutions.
The numbers are big: French people throw away 150 single-use plastic cups every second, which makes 4.73 billion per year (according to French Association of Health and Environment). And that's just in one country! Yet only 1% of them is recycled, because they're made of a mixture of polypropylene and polystyrene. Apparently the easiest solution is the banning of plastic and its replacement with materials that are at least 50% biologically-sourced, as the new French law demands.
The problem is not as simple though. The production of biologically-sourced alternatives to plastic requires energy, and we already know energy consumption doesn't equal eco-firendly. Wageningen University in the Netherlands made a reaserch about bio plastics comparing them to conventional oil-based products. Dr. Li Shen notes that the production of biobased polyamides requires around twice as much energy as that of oil-based versions. She claims that our future relies upon biologically-sourced materials, but we still need to make the production process more efficient.
The French legal action is a starting point for a discussion that needs to be held. We're literally covered with plastic and it's not fantastic at all.