Europe's plastics industry has won a qualified victory in its battle to block a proposed ban on all nonbiodegradable plastic bags in France.
French senators, debating a controversial amendment demanding the bag ban, voted for a compromise outlawing only the nonbiodegradable, single-use, light carrier bags distributed at supermarket checkouts.
However, the limited regulation, backed by the French government, is due to come into force Jan. 1, 2010, ahead of a 2012 deadline anticipated by European plastics industry leaders.
Since the French Senate now has amended a proposal from the National Assembly, the lower house of France's Parliament, the matter will have to be thrashed out by a special commission.
The commission's final text then will be sent back to the Assembly where the measure is set to be adopted - unaltered - Dec. 14, according to Michel Loubry, regional director of the polymer producers body PlasticsEurope.
``From a European perspective, France will have to notify this decision after adoption in the light of the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, which will lead to an official [EU] investigation,'' Loubry said. He is Western Europe region director, based in Paris, and has led industry lobbying against a plastic bag ban.
``We have been able to convince senators and the government that the scope of the [Assembly] amendment had to be reduced as the general packaging reference has been abandoned,'' he said.
The compromise measure only covers a small portion of the bag business, he pointed out. ``There seems to be agreement that thin bags for fruit, vegetables and fish - bags used in small neighborhood shops and markets - would not fall under this [Senate] amendment,'' Loubry said.