A ban on plastic bags distributed at cashiers in French shops came into force Friday, as the country makes the environmentally-friendly shift to recyclable and reusable biodegradable bags.
The measure came into effect July 1 and was passed as part of a 2015 energy bill. It bans plastic bags thinner than 50 micrometres from being distributed at cashiers regardless of volume, and regardless of whether or not the retailer charges customers for the bag.
Bakeries, butcher shops, grocery stores and pharmacies of all sizes, in addition to markets and supermarkets, will be obliged to enforce the ban.
Five billion plastic bags are handed out every year in France, while another 12 billion are used in the produce section of stores. A ban against plastic bags used for produce will go into effect January 2017.
Each of those 17 billion plastic bags takes several hundred years to biodegrade.
They are particularly hazardous to marine animals, which can often ingest the bags. According to the French environment ministry, 94 percent of birds in the North Sea have plastic in their stomachs, as do 86 percent of marine turtles. Read article here