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France to outlaw single-use plastic bags by 2016

AFP

France is set to become the latest nation to ban single-use plastic bags in shops following a vote in the National Assembly Friday on a wide-ranging Energy Transition bill.

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The ban will come into force in 2016 if the bill is approved by the Senate, although it will not apply to re-usable or biodegradable bags.

The proposed law will also outlaw disposable plastic cutlery and crockery by 2020, a measure introduced by members of France's EELV Green Party which wanted the rule enforced by 2017.

The delay was forced by Environment Minister Ségolène Royal, who said families on low incomes "rely on plastic cutlery and crockery" that they often re-use.

France isn't the first country to impose an outright ban on plastic bags, which are blamed for polluting countrysides and marine ecosystems.

In 2012 Haiti outlawed all plastic bags and packaging in a bid to protect its coastal mangrove swamps.

Bangladesh also banned plastic bags, which were blamed for blocking sewage systems and exacerbating extreme flooding events.

Other countries, such as Ireland and Denmark, have imposed taxes on bags, which have dramatically reduced consumption.

France’s Energy Transition bill also promotes the development of electric cars, recycling as well as measures to prevent “planned obsolescence" in consumer goods, in which products are given an artificially-limited life and become unusable after a given time.

Further measures include obligations to improve energy efficiency in buildings during renovation work, including roofing and cladding operations.

The law also sets the target of reducing France's dependency on nuclear power from 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025.

Other targets include the reduction of greenhouse gasses by 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels and increasing use of renewable energy sources from 23 percent to 32 percent in the same time frame.

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