The modification to French Agricultural Law, approved on Friday, 14 September 2018 by the Assemblée Nationale and the Senate prohibits the availability of plastics containers and disposables for catering in school, university and nurseries. Despite current discussions in Europe affecting the end-of-life disposal of some of the same items targeted in France, as of today, the European Union has not yet adopted any restrictive measures against single use plastics packaging and food containers, which puts the decision in conflict with European law.
According to Petcore Europe and PET Sheet Europe the proposal of the European Commission for a Directive on the reduction of certain types of plastics is not yet finalized. At the moment, European Parliament and Council are still deciding their own position in reference to a proposal that has followed a rather quick legislative process. Normally, new regulations that foresee restrictions and changes, take longer than a year and are supported by long and extensive analysis and impact assessment, for the Single use directive proposal this has not happened.
Therefore, the French legal modification appears to be against European law, as it creates a disruption of the Single market framework, violating the free circulation of goods as well as the freedom of placing packaging products in the market, according to Article 18 of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive.
Moreover, a proposal that affects public procurement rules for the catering in schools and similar venues is not legally admissible. Catering services operated by public authorities fall into the scope of the European Directive on public procurement, 2014/18/EC. This Directive does not foresee additional restrictions for certain types of products. Accordingly, any over-implementation by a Member States of a Directive must be carried out in observance of the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.
Petcore Europe – representing the entire value chain of PET in Europe – and PET Sheet Europe, Sector Group of EuPC – representing the PET sheet manufacturers in Europe – are highly concerned by the mentioned French legislative changes risking to create more damage than the one attempted to reduce by banning perfectly recyclable food containers in the above mentioned applications. According to Petcore Europe blunt restrictions without thorough environmental assessment are in no way a solution – instead we urge the European legislators to help set up proper European-wide collection schemes for plastic packaging waste in order to close the loop.