A BAN on plastic shopping bags - and also disposable cutlery - has moved a step closer to becoming law in France.
The National Assembly has voted in favour of the ban, which would see single-use bags disappear from supermarket checkouts in 2016 and plastic forks and spoons from 2020.
The measures were added into a bill on the transition to renewable energy, on the request of the government, and will now be examined by the upper house, the Senate.
The ban had been due to be included in a draft law on biodiversity, but its reading was delayed until next year and the government was keen to act sooner.
Hypermarket chains have already reduced their plastic bag use over the past decade in a voluntary agreement. The number of bags they gave out fell from 10.5 billion in 2002 to 700 million in 2011.
However, the government estimates that shoppers nationwide are still using five billion carrier bags and 12 billion fruit-and-veg bags each year.
Once passed, all shops from January 2016 will no longer be able to provide disposable plastic bags, unless they are made from easily biodegradable or compostable materials.
Single-use plastic plates and cutlery are also due to disappear from 2020, following an amendment introduced by the Green MP François-Michel Lambert.
He defended the ban because of the energy consumed in making disposable picnic-ware and the pollution caused when they are thrown away.
The Assembly also adopted a measure to reduce France's dependence on nuclear energy from 75 per cent currently to 50 per cent by 2025.