France plans to introduce a penalty system next year that would increase the costs of consumer goods with packaging made of non-recycled plastic, part of a pledge to use only recycled plastic nationwide by 2025, an environment ministry official said Sunday.
Brune Poirson, secretary of state for ecological transition, said the move was one of several to be implemented in coming years, including a deposit-refund scheme for plastic bottles.
"Declaring war on plastic is not enough. We need to transform the French economy," she told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
Under the new plan, products with recycled plastic packaging could cost up to 10 percent less, while those containing non-recycled plastic up to 10 percent more, Poirson said.
"When there's a choice between two bottles, one made of recycled plastic and the other without, the first will be less expensive," she said.
Emmanuel Guichard of the Elipso federation of plastic packaging makers gave a cautious welcome to the plan.
"For bottles, giving consumers a choice is possible. But we can´t forget other items -- today there's no recycled plastics available for yoghurt pots," he said.
"We're hoping that companies play the game so that clients aren´t the ones penalised" by the new measure, said Flore Berlingen of the association Zero Waste France.
The French government also aims to increase taxes on burying trash in landfills while cutting taxes for recycling operations, hoping to address the growing problem of tonnes of plastic finding its way into oceans.
In a sign of growing public awareness of the problem, France is among several countries hit recently by a wave of "plastic attacks" -- where shoppers dump all the packaging of their purchases outside stores.
"When non-recycled plastic will cost more, that will eliminate much of the excessive packaging," Poirson said.
France currently recycles around 25 percent of its plastic, according to the magazine 60 Million Consumers.
It has already outlawed single-use plastic bags in supermarkets unless they can be composted, hoping to encourage people to shop with their own bags.
The Carrefour and Leclerc supermarket chains have also said they will quit selling plastic straws in the coming months, ahead of a law outlawing them by 2020.
The European Commission also wants to sharply cut down on single-use plastic objects, announcing in May rules requiring the use of alternative materials and incentives for businesses.
Plastic production has soared more than 40 percent globally over the past 10 years, mainly for packaging.