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France: the ban on plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables is back in force

SafeGuardSHardgoodsJune 27, 2023

SG 78/23

The sale of fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic will once again be banned from July 1, 2023. Decree N°2023-478 still allows the sale of 29 fruits and vegetables in plastic packaging, six more than in the project presented at the end of 2022.

Decree N°2023-478 was published in the Official Journal (JORF) on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, to regulate the ban on the sale of fruit and vegetables packaged in plastic. This ban will once again be back in effect from July 1, but with exemptions for 29 fruits and vegetables, as well as ripe fruit. This represents six more exemptions than were provided for in the draft order submitted for consultation last December. In addition, the final text also relaxes the derogation mechanism for the disposal of stock and provides for a specific exemption for rubber bands.

This French decree is an implementation of the Anti-waste and Circular Economy (Agec) law which, since 2022, has prohibited the retail sale of fresh fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging, unless they are packaged in batches of more than 1.5kg. The law also provides exemptions for "fruits and vegetables presenting a risk of deterioration when sold in bulk", which are listed in the decree.

The first text, adopted in October 2021, provided for a gradual reduction in the list of fruits and vegetables authorized for sale in plastic packaging, with deadlines ranging from mid-2023 to mid-2026. However, this text was canceled by the Council of State after being challenged by representatives of packaging producers and farmers. The High Administrative Jurisdiction considered that the law made it possible to exempt permanently, and not temporarily, fruit and vegetables presenting a risk of deterioration when sold in bulk. This is now provided for in the new decree.

The government initially planned to authorize the sale of only 23 fruits and vegetable in plastic packaging, in addition to perfectly ripe fruits (i.e. fruits sold to the final consumer at full maturity, as indicated on packaging). Six fruits and vegetables have now been added to that initial list, making a total of 29.

The full list includes asparagus, broccoli, early potatoes, early carrots, salad and cherries, endives, mushrooms, small carrots, lamb's lettuce, young shoots, aromatic herbs, spinach, sorrel, edible flowers, mung bean sprouts, cranberries, cranberries, cape gooseberries, sprouted seeds, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants, surelle, sour (and country) gooseberries, blackcurrants and kiwis.

The decree also includes two other relaxations compared to the initial draft submitted for consultation. Firstly, the derogatory regime for the disposal of packaging stocks has been extended to all fruits and goes until December 31, 2023. Initially, only 18 fruits and vegetables were affected by this temporary derogation, but the published text now extends this derogation to all fruits and vegetables.

Secondly, the decree allows the use of rubber bands to group together certain small fruits and vegetables. Rubber bands are normally prohibited, as the definition of plastic packaging includes fastening devices that partially cover fruits and vegetables. However, the decree now excludes the use of rubber bands necessary for the grouping of several small fruits or vegetables, such as those presented for sale with tops (radish, carrots, etc.) and aromatic herbs. This provision was not included in the initial draft.

Industries are increasingly seeking a reduction in the use of new plastic and an increase in the use of recycled plastic. SGS offers a range of services to help manufacturers, brands and retailers promote a circular economy. Visit our website or contact us to discover more. In the end, it’s only trusted because it’s tested.

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Marine Dessaigne

Marine Dessaigne

Circular Economy and CSR Project Manager

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