French law introduces measures to strengthen bioplastics market

Biobased, biodegradable fruit and vegetable bags mandatory as of 01/2017

Berlin, 23 July 2015. Yesterday, the French parliament adopted the law on energy transition and green growth proposed by Ségolène Royal, Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. European Bioplastics (EUBP) welcomes the opportunities created by the new law to introduce biobased, compostable plastics to selected types of packaging as well as fruit and vegetable bags. „We fully support the clear commitment to plastics which are biobased and biodegradable,“ states François de Bie, Chairman of the Board of European Bioplastics.

Besides plans to reduce the share of nuclear power in the French energy mix, the law contains a wide range of legislative proposals, e.g. on renewables (40% by 2030) and CO2 reduction (-40% by 2030). Bioplastic lightweight bags for fruits and vegetables, for example, will need to be biobased and compostable in home composting from 1 January 2017 on. The minimum biobased content and its progressive increase will be defined in a decree of the State Council, which will also define measures for consumer information about the material composition and utilisation of such bags. Furthermore, plastic packaging for commercial mailshots will have to be biodegradable/compostable in home composting by 1 January 2017.

“These provisions represent an important step for the French bioplastics industry, which has invested more than 40 million euros in the last 15 years. Unfortunately, however, an important opportunity to promote single-use bags that are biobased and biodegradable at the cashier’s desk was missed. They could have been a valuable tool to safely transport goods and later on to hygienically collect biowaste,” states Christophe Doukhi-de Boissoudy, president of French association Club Bio-plastiques.

The French law on energy transition and green growth also clearly distinguishes between biobased, biodegradable/compostable plastics and oxo-fragmentable plastics. Compostable plastics that have been certified according to harmonised European norms support a separate biowaste collection and home-composting infrastructures. They help to keep other waste streams such as mechanical recycling efficient and clean. Oxo-fragmentable plastics are essentially durable, fossil-based plastics with artificial additives, which cause the plastic to fragment into micro-particles. They do not meet the European norms for compostability and can potentially hinder mechanical recycling. European Bioplastics therefore welcomes the clear vote of the French institutions to prohibit the production, distribution, sale, provision and utilisation of packaging or bags made partially or completely from oxo-fragmentable plastics.

„France has taken a step forward to the responsible consumption of plastic materials and to treating waste as a valuable resource. Bioplastic materials will contribute their share to its environmentally responsible economic growth“, concludes de Bie.

More facts about plastics that are biobased, biodegradable, or both:
EUBP publications:
Bioplastic market data:

Bioplastics are used in an increasing number of markets – from packaging, catering products, consumer electronics, automotive, agriculture/horticulture and toys to textiles and a number of other segments.

Growing demand for more sustainable solutions is reflected in growing production capacities of bioplastics: in 2013 production capacities amounted to 1.6 million tonnes. Market data of European Bioplastics forecasts production capacities will multiply by 2018 – to approximately 6.7 million tonnes.1

Global Prod Capacity_Total_2014_en

New bioplastic materials, compounds and master batches are being created daily and an increasing number of production facilities are coming on-stream.

The factors driving market development are both internal and external.
 External factors make bioplastics the attractive choice. This is reflected in the high rate of consumer acceptance. Moreover, the extensively publicised effects of climate change, price increases of fossil materials, and the increasing dependence on fossil resources also contribute to bioplastics being viewed favourably.

From an internal perspective, bioplastics are efficient and technologically mature materials. They are able to improve the balance between the environmental benefits and the environmental impact of plastics. Life cycle analyses demonstrate that bioplastics can significantly reduce CO2 emissions compared to conventional plastics (depending on the material and application). What is more, the increasing utilisation of biomass in bioplastic applications has two clear advantages: renewability and availability.