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France passes landmark law to stop unsold goods being thrown away | World news

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France is to ban designer clothes and luxury goods companies from destroying unsold or returned items under a wide-ranging anti-waste law passed by parliament on Thursday.

The groundbreaking law, which the French government claims is a world first, also covers electrical items, hygiene products and cosmetics, which must now be reused, redistributed or recycled.

It also phases out the use of paper till receipts and single-use plastics and encourages pharmacies to sell certain medications in individual doses.

The bill, containing 130 articles, was finally adopted after the Assemblée Nationale – which passed it nine days ago – and the upper house, the Sénat reached an agreement. France already has a law banning supermarkets from throwing away unsold food and forcing them to hand the goods to charities.

The anti-waste and circular economy bill requires producers, importers and distributors, including online firms such as Amazon, to donate unsold non-food goods except those that pose a health or safety risk.

It aims for all plastic to be recyclable by 2025 and a 50% reduction in the use of single-use plastic bottles in the next decade. Fast food restaurants and takeaways will have to stop using plastic containers by 2023 at the latest.

Brune Poirson, a junior environment minister, promised legislation to tackle waste last year after French TV broadcast a documentary showing containers of unsold and returned products at an Amazon warehouse being sent to be destroyed.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s office said more than €650m worth of new consumer products were destroyed or thrown away every year in France.

In a “polluter pays” clause, companies will be required to finance the destruction of waste they create. This requires tobacco manufacturers to pay for the disposal of cigarette butts from next year, and affects those making toys, sports goods, DIY and garden products and building materials from 2021.

Arash Derambarsh, a French politician behind the 2016 law forcing supermarkets to donate usable expired food of dumping or destroying it, said the new law was “full of good intentions … but half-hearted”.

“Today, thanks to our food waste law any supermarket that refuses to donate food can be fined €10,000. There are no penalties in this new law; unfortunately when there is no punishment people will just ignore the law,” Derambarsh said.

“That’s the culture on our continent. If there are no fines then it won’t be effective. It’s a patchy solution.”

The law also aims to encourage the selling of loose foods stating that all customers “can ask to be served in a container that they have supplied as long as it is clearly clean and adapted to the product being bought”.

Manufacturers using plastics in their products must publish “open data” on the presence of endocrine disruptors in their goods.



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