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This article is written by Vaibhav Raghuvanshi, pursuing Certificate Course in Advanced Civil Litigation: Practice, Procedure and Drafting from Lawsikho.com.

Introduction

Around 300 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced each year around the world. India alone contributes approximately 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste each year.

Researchers have estimated that around 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been manufactured to date from 1950. Out of which 60% of the plastic has ended up in the natural environment or landfills as plastic waste. Despite various efforts, only 9% of the plastic waste has been recycled and 12% has been incinerated to date. The remaining 79% is still accumulated in our environment. 

Today plastic waste has become a major problem for every government around the globe. To deal with this problem the French government has taken a unique initiative by adopting a new law on the fight against waste and the circular economy Law no. 2020-105, as known as the “Anti-Waste Law” with a goal of recycling 100% of plastics by the year 2025. 

This article will help you understand the Anti-waste law passed by France’s government, its aims and will pinpoint a few things which can be adopted in Indian for the management of plastic waste to have a better and environment-friendly tomorrow. 

What is anti-waste law?

The European Commission has been working on an action plan since 2015 for the transition of Europe toward a circular economy. France’s government on 10 February 2020 passed “The Anti-waste law” on the fight against waste and to promote a circular economy. 

The law contains fifty measures addressing different aspects and principles such as polluter pays, full transparency in environmental and health aspects of a product, transparency on the waste management plan, prohibition on the use of singular plastic, provision to combat wastage of both food and non-food product, strict punishment for offences against the environment, provision to supporting companies in their eco-friendly initiatives, etc.

What does France’s government aim to achieve by anti-waste law?

France’s government wants to recycle 100% plastic by the year 2025. They want to decrease the household trash and waste from economic activity by 15% and 5% respectively by the year 2030. By 2040 the French government aims to impose a complete ban on singular-use plastic packaging.

Content of anti-waste law

The anti-waste law contains 50 measures broadly emphasizing the obligation, transparency, waste management, prohibition to combat plastic, greater power to Mayors to fight against the illegal dump, provision to support companies for their innovation of easily recyclable products, and assisting citizens to get familiar with the new consumer as per the Anti-waste law.

140 billion units of disposable household products are circulated and 180,000 tonnes of packaging is thrown away immediately after use each year in France. The French Government by enforcing an anti-waste law wants to ban all singular-use plastic by 2040. To achieve this the government plans to implement a five-year plan that will target reduction, reuse, and recycling of plastic. It will be implemented in 4 stages 2020-2025, 2025-2030, 2030-2035, and 2035-2040.

Strategic implementation of anti-waste law

The European Commission in order to accelerate the transition of Europe toward a circular economy adopted an action plan in the year 2015 which focused majorly on the transition of five different sectors namely plastic, food waste, critical raw materials, construction, and demolition, biomass, and biomaterials.

To implement the objective of reduction of the impact of plastic on the environment as the Directives of the Circular Economy Package which was adopted in 2018 and completed in 2019 the French Government adopted Law No. 2020-105 Regarding a Circular Economy and the Fight Against Waste also known as “the Anti-waste Law”.

The French Government aims to implement the Anti-waste by strategically focusing on the heads such as the polluters pay principle, awareness among consumers, transparency, acting against obsolescence, reducing the waste and harmonizing the reuse, incentivizing the manufacturer of easily recyclable products, penalizing illegal dumping of waste, etc. Now let us discuss each head in detail. 

Discontinuing the use of single-use plastic 

Following are the steps which are taken or will be taken to realize the dream of discounting the use of single-use plastic in France’s under anti-waste law:

  1. On 1st January 2020 ban was imposed on cups, plates, and cotton buds.
  2. In the year 2021, the French Government banned the use of disposable straw, stirrers, etc in fast-food restaurants.
  3. From 1st January 2021, both the manufacturing and import of single-use plastic was prohibited.
  4. On 1st January 2021, the use of polystyrene boxes was banned for on-site or take-away customers of the restaurant. 
  5. On 1st January 2021, the use of plastic confetti was prohibited.
  6. From 1st January 2021, the French people will be allowed to bring their containers to the retail store, though the seller will be able to prescribe the specific type of container as per the hygiene standards.   
  7. On 1st January 2021, the France government prohibited both the manufacturing and import of single-use plastic.
  8. To send a strong message to the producer and the distributor, selective sorting bins will be installed in each supermarket from 1st January 2021 at the check-out area so that the customer can get rid of packaging as soon as he leaves.  
  9. From 1st January 2022, it will be prohibited to use non-biodegradable plastic for tea bags and marketing of tea.
  10. Ban will be imposed on the use of plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables for the waving below 1.5 Kg from 1st January 2022. 
  11. From 1 January 2022 supply of plastic toys with the menus will be prohibited.
  12. From 1st January 2022 sponsors will not be allowed to distribute paid or free bottles at cultural, sports, or festivals.
  13. From 1st January 2022, all public places such as schools, libraries, universities, etc will be equipped with drinking water fountains. 
  14. From 1st January 2023, the France Government plans to make it compulsory for the restaurants to use reusable tableware for the onsite use of the customer.
  15. Newspapers, magazines, and advertising will be prohibited from using plastic wrap from 1st January 2023
  16. As of 1st January 2025, the household and professional washing machine will be equipped with a plastic microfiber filter.
  17. Plastic containers for cooking as well as heating baby food will be prohibited in pediatric, obstetric, maternity wards, and perinatal centres from 1st January 2025.

Educating the consumer 

To spread awareness among the consumer the French Government under the new Anti-waste law will be implementing the following steps:

  1. The claims such as biodegradable are prohibited to be used on the product as they are found to be vague and misleading for the consumer.
  2. Triman Logo along with the sorting information will be indicated on the packing of the product from 2021 mandatorily. 
  3. By 31st December 2022, the France Government aims to harmonize the colour of waste bins. 
  4. To better inform consumers any person marketing a product containing a substance that can cause endocrine disruptor to property according to ANSES must publish the list of these products and sustain contained in each of such products in an open format from 1st January 2022.
  5. From 1st January 2022, the consumer should be properly informed about the legal guarantee on a product so that the same is not confused with a commercial guarantee. 
  6. Prohibition will be imposed no later than 31 December 2023 prohibition on unsold non-food inventory such as clothes, beauty products, shoes, books, or consumer electronics, etc. from destruction.
  7. 50 million euros have been allocated for developing technology for reuse in order to reduce thousands of tonnes of waste. 
  8. From 1st January 2022, the patient will only get the number of medicines as prescribed by the doctor.
  9. Use of pamphlets catalogue and advertising printed matter on cars will be prohibited from 1st January 2022.
  10. Automatic printing of cash-till and credit card receipts when money or vouchers are withdrawn will be banned from 1st January 2023 although the consumer will be able to ask for a printed receipt if he wishes to do so.

Transparency  

In order to promote transparency, the France Government under anti-waste law has enforced the following things:

  1. From 1st January 2021, every internet service provider and mobile operator shall display the data usage and greenhouse gas emission.
  2. The compulsion for all computer and cell phone manufacturers and vendors to inform the buyer about the time frame during which their device is subjected to a software update from this year 2021.

Acting against obsolescence

To fight against obsolescence the anti-waste law provides that a 6-month legal guarantee should be extended if the appliance undergoes repair during the timeline of legal guarantee from 1st January 2022. The law also provides that if in case the spare part of the product is not available in the market the manufacturer or the importer is subject to the provision of IPR on request from the vendor or repairer can provide the spare part by using the 3D printing technology applicable from 1st January 2022.

As per anti-waste law building sector professionals, local associates and the French Environment and Energy Management Agency will come together to determine the number of new waste collection centres required so that waste does end up in the environment. These collection centres will take back any waste of the building sector professional, required that it is sorted. 

Fighting the waste and harmonizing the reuse  

The French Government has aimed to achieve a 60% repair rate in electric and electronic products for this the manufacturer will be required to provide a repairability index on the product which will allow the consumer to know whether the product is repairable with ease, difficulty, or non-repairable. The law also makes it mandatory that from 1st January 2021 at the time of purchase the consumer should be made aware of the availability of spare parts by the display of the list of available spare parts. It will be made compulsory for the manufacturer to make the spare part available to the seller or the repairer within 15 days of the request from them. 

Making better product

In accordance with the provision of the Anti-waste law every five years, there will be an analysis of the producer or the manufacturer subject to the polluter pay scheme and a new action plan will be designed to increase the manufacturing of recyclable material in France’s territory. 

The France government also intends to change sanctions for the pro-producer in order to make them more responsible to achieve the target set by the government in terms of recovery, reuse, repair, and eco-friendly design of their product. 

The manufacturers of things like windows, carpets, concrete, or other building sectors as per the polluter pay principle under the anti-waste law need to ensure the free recovery of waste sorted by their craftsman and the waste should not be exposed in the environment from 1st January 2022. 

Imposing penalties 

The anti-waste law provides for a provision of a fine upto $16,760 (that is approx. 1500 euros) for illegal dumping of waste and for impounding vehicles used for illegal dumping. The law also provides for penalties according to the size and turnover of the business. 

The key takeaway for India 

Though, India is not one of the major plastic waste producers in the world. It produces approximately 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste each year but due to its poor waste management most of the plastic waste ends up in the natural environment. Approximately 85% of the total plastic waste produced in India is inadequately managed. To counter this Indian government has passed Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules 2021. Under this amendment, the government intends to enforce the ban on the Manufacturing of carrying bags below 120 um thickness from 30 September 2021 and by 1 January 2022 Manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale, and use of plastic sticks in earbud, balloons, flags, candy sticks, ice-cream sticks, polystyrene for decoration will be banned in India. The manufacture, stocking, distribution, import, sale, and use of single-use plastic items like plates, glasses, cups, cutlery, invitation cards, cigarette packets, plastic/PVC banners less than 100 µm thick, and stirrers will also be banned from 1 July 2022. 

As India is a country with a very large population, trying to make people aware of the hazard of plastic waste will involve a lot of effort and money. Rather, the Indian government can focus on tackling the problem from a different point of view. The Indian government can first focus on the production aspect of plastic, especially the singular-use plastic which cannot be recycled and is one of the major reasons for plastic pollution, and then work on the recycling plan. But it is not the making of the law that seems to be a problem in India, it’s the implementation.

France’s Anti-waste law provides for many effective schemes which can help the Indian government to solve its waste management problem by curtailing the production of single-use plastic and the same focusing on the recycling plan. Such as:

  • Manufacturing and import of single-use plastic should be prohibited and a ban should be imposed on cups, plates, cotton bud’s disposable straw, stirrer, plastic confetti, polystyrene boxes, etc. The sponsor should not be allowed to distribute paid or free bottles at cultural, sports, or festivals and all public places should offer drinking water for free. Newspapers, magazines, and advertising should not be allowed to use plastic wrap.
  • Moreover, the polluter pays principle should be enforced in the building sector of things like windows, carpets, concrete, etc to ensure the free recovery of waste sorted by their craftsman and the waste should not be exposed to the environment. There should be provision for heavy penalties i.e., up to 0.1% of the total turnover if in case anyone is found to be exposing waste in the environment. The claims such as biodegradable should not be used on the product as they are vague and misleading for the consumer. As there are many needy people in India, unsold non-food inventory such as clothes, beauty products, shoes, books, or consumer electronics, etc. should not be allowed to be destroyed, rather it should be donated and distributed among the poor section of the society. 

Conclusion 

According to the environmental ministry of India, 40% of the plastic waste generated each year remains uncollected in India. We don’t consider plastic as a big issue now as the per capita plastic waste produced is still lower than in other countries. But at the same time, due to our inefficient management of plastic waste, there are a lot of problems such as waste piles up in landfills, chokes, drains and rivers. This plastic waste is flowing into our sea where it is ingested by marine animals and is thus causing a huge loss of marine life each year. This water is sinking into our groundwater, contaminating the natural environment with poisonous dioxins. If we act quickly, we can curtail this problem before it gets any bigger. All we need is good management of plastic waste focusing on reducing, reuse and recycling. Some strict rules are needed to stop the manufacturing of singular-use plastic. France’s anti-waste law offers some really good and feasible solutions in the fight against plastic. The government of India should definitely consider it before making any new policy regarding waste management.   

Reference 


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