French senators seem likely to water down rather than throw out a proposal to ban nonbiodegradable plastic packaging in France beginning in 2010.
The lower house of France's Parliament, its National Assembly, had passed the ban Oct. 11, as part of an agricultural reform bill. The plan faces opposition in France's Senate.
Now the French government, under Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, is expected to back a counterproposal that limits the measure to nonbiodegradable, lightweight plastic carrier bags distributed at large supermarkets. This would not take effect until 2012, said Michel Loubry, regional director of PlasticsEurope, the plastics manufacturers trade group based in Brussels, Belgium.
``The assembly amendment will be fought in the Senate by some senators. The government, as far as we know, is not in favor of that proposal and will support a new amendment in the Senate,'' Loubry said.
``That will probably reduce the [ban's] scope only to lightweight plastic carrier bags provided at the supermarket exit.''
Based in Paris, Loubry has spearheaded the plastic industry's opposition to the National Assembly vote, which stirred up a storm of protest from the sector in and outside France. Since then, the director has taken the industry's protest to France's environment ministry.
The Assembly vote bothers Loubry, in particular because the plastics packaging sector in France recently, after eight months of negotiation, sealed a voluntary agreement to halve the number of carrier bags at supermarkets by 2006. In 2003, about 15 billion such bags were distributed free in France, according to Loubry.
The Senate will debate the packaging amendment around Nov. 7.
If the Assembly and Senate cannot agree on the packaging proposal, the matter is likely to be thrashed out at a special committee, Loubry said.
The measure is set to return to the Assembly for final ratification Dec. 14. If a packaging ban is introduced, then France must notify the European Union, since it would go against existing European legislation, Loubry said.
``This is the best thing that we can get'' he said of the compromise. He estimated that biodegradable bags represent 0.7 percent of total plastics packaging in France.