France Is Making A Big Change To The Way It Packages Fresh Produce

Have you ever strolled down the supermarket produce aisle and wondered why some individual fruits and vegetables come wrapped in plastic that you immediately throw away once you get home? Well, if you lived in France, you'd no longer have to: A new law limiting the use of plastic packaging on produce has gone into effect, part of a massive effort to reduce plastic waste overall.

According to the Library of Congress, an anti-waste law signed by president Emmanuel Macron in February 2020, which has been implemented in stages, took effect in supermarkets in France on New Year's Day. The new law's provisions will make shopping for fruits and vegetables look a whole lot different in 2022. 

The French government has called individually-wrapped apples, carrots, cucumbers, and other produce items an "aberration" that is overused and unnecessary, and stores will no longer be allowed to wrap such produce items in plastic (via The Guardian). The country aims to phase out all single-use plastics by 2040.

No more plastic in the produce aisle

According to the Library of Congress, France's "Law Regarding a Circular Economy and the Fight Against Waste" made provisions for these new rules to go into effect this year, and regulations include banning plastic wrapping of individual cucumbers, leeks, peppers, zucchini, and 26 other fruits and vegetables (via The Guardian). Exemptions to the new rules include packages weighing over 1.5 kilograms [about 3.3 pounds], chopped or processed produce, and softer items more susceptible to bruising, such as cherry tomatoes and berries.

According to the BBC, more than a third of fruits and vegetables in France are sold wrapped in plastic, and French officials believe the new rules could lead to a reduction of one billion pieces of single-use plastic per year. In a statement, the country's Environment Ministry said that it was high time to control the "outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives" (via The Guardian). Similar bans on plastic packaging will go into effect in Spain next year.