Despite the law, the take-out food packaging explosion persists

Despite the law, the take-out food packaging explosion persists

In office districts, the lunch break is now often embellished with a paper bag brought back to the workplace. A bag filled with plastic, aluminum and cardboard trays, cans, small bottles, cutlery, napkins… which will end up irreparably in the trash as soon as the meal is swallowed up. This is one of the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic that survived the confinements: the boom in take-out restaurants and its corollary, the explosion of packaging waste. A trend that the anti-waste law is trying to curb. But without success so far, according to an investigation by the No Plastic In My Sea association, published Wednesday, November 17.

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The number of outlets for taking out fast food increased by 11% compared to 2019 (pre-Covid benchmark year) to stand at 48,800 in France, according to the annual study published in October by CHD Expert, benchmark analysis firm in the restaurant industry. Conversely, table catering (restaurants, brasseries, cafes) fell by 19%, with 93,100 units. And 60% of restaurateurs now offer take-away versus 44% before the health crisis.

However, according to estimates from the Ecological Transition Agency (Ademe), take-out catering generates more than 220,000 tonnes of packaging each year in France, the majority of which is single-use plastic. Globally, waste linked to take-out catering is the leading source of plastic pollution in aquatic environments. Bags, bottles, containers, cutlery, caps, lids, cups… According to an international meta-analysis published in June in the scientific journal Nature Sustainability, they represent 50% to 88% of marine litter. In 2018, a study by the European Commission already showed that the waste most found on European beaches came from take-out restaurants.

A law little applied

Promulgated in February 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, the anti-waste law for a circular economy aims to limit the production of waste and in particular to “Get out of disposable plastic”. It thus provides for the end of the marketing of single-use plastic packaging by 2040. Plastic straws and expanded polystyrene boxes (used in particular for kebabs) have been banned since 1is January. Several articles concern take-out catering and should encourage consumers to avoid single-use packaging, in favor of reusable containers. Since July, restaurateurs are therefore obliged to serve customers who come with their own containers for food. An obligation that has been valid since January for drinks and is accompanied by a reduced price and even free for water.

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