French supermarket Leclerc criticised for plastic use

French supermarket giant Leclerc has been chastised for its excess use of plastic on a pack of hard-boiled eggs, with a junior minister saying that a new “anti-waste” law would stop such “aberrations” in future.

9 June 2020
Tweet photo of eggs covered in plastic film. French supermarket Leclerc slammed by junior minister Brune Poirson for excess plasticThe junior ecology minister tweeted a photo of these eggs in packaging, calling them an "aberration"
By Connexion journalist

Junior ecology minister Brune Poirson tweeted a criticism of the supermarket group, as a comment on a photo of hard-boiled eggs packaged in a polystyrene tray, and covered in a layer of plastic film.

In a sarcastic tone, she said: “Otherwise, to protect an egg, nature has invented an ingenious package, that we call a ‘shell’! Well done Leclerc for this fantastic innovation.

“Happily, the #LoiAntiGaspillage [#AntiWasteLaw] will see the removal of these aberrations.”

This so-called “name and shame” strategy is an intentional way of drawing attention to an issue, Ms Poirson’s team said.

In a statement, they said: “Behind this strategy is the idea that, as well as the law, there is also the question of image and reputation, which is equally important for a business.”

It added: “When you are such a big part of the public’s lives [Leclerc], you cannot have good intentions on the one hand, and on the other, put products onto the market that go against these principles.”

The hard-boiled eggs in this image represent a particular ecological issue.

Firstly, the fact that the eggs must be cooked first beforehand, followed by the double use of non-recyclable material to then package them.

The ecology ministry said: “Technically, the plastic film is recyclable, but we are not sure if it will be recycled properly, or put into the bin, as this [recycling system] is still not developed enough in France.

“And the black tray is probably expanded polystyrene, a product that will be banned from January 1 2021, and which in this case has been dyed with black carbon, which makes the material non-recyclable.”

 

Anti-waste law for 2021

The anti-waste law - known in French as the Loi Anti-Gaspillage - was voted through in February this year. It will include some bans, including on materials such as expanded polystyrene, but will also introduce a penalty system for some products.

This will mean that they will become too expensive to produce, effectively forcing them off the market and requiring their manufacturers to choose more eco-friendly alternatives.

In defence of Leclerc’s packaging, CEO Michel-Edouard Leclerc tweeted a response, saying that the group had taken significant steps to remove excess packaging in many areas already.

He described the hard-boiled egg packaging as a “blunder”, isolated to the Brittany store it came from.

And he wrote: “If one blunder in a store is worth a Tweet from a minister, how many Tweets [are we due] for the removal of 14 tons of plastic from these Leclerc ice creams?”

Eco-alert

This is the second public alert on ecological issues from Ms Poirson in three days.

On Sunday (June 7), she announced that littering in France in a public place - including medical face masks, and cigarette butts - will soon risk a fine of €135, rising to €375 in case of non-payment

She said: “Everyone must understand that all objects thrown on the ground often finish their journey in the ocean.

“If we want clean oceans and seas, it starts with clean pavements.”

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