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France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

Posted October 25, 2016 1:34 PM by Hannes
Pathfinder Tags: bioplastic france plastic

For the past several years, an all-out war has been silently waged between two opposing factions here at CR4 HQ: those who support the supply of plastic cutlery in the office and those who do not. Both sides have pretty valid points. The Pros enjoy the flexibility of walking into the break room and grabbing a fork if they forgot one at home, and the Cons raise the issues of office sustainability and the fact that plastics are now hanging around in landfills en masse.

This debate occurs throughout most of the world as well, of course. Billions of plastic cups end up in landfills every year. Plastic bags fill our streets and oceans, and are often ingested by sea life when mistaken for jellyfish. But certain jurisdictions have taken small steps against our plastic addiction. Plastic bag taxes and bans are becoming common around the world, for example.

France became the first country to introduce blanket legislation against plastic dishware in September, when it announced a total ban on sales of non-compostable plastic cutlery, dishes, and cups starting in 2020. The country’s had a busy year sustainability-wise: their ban on single-use “common” plastic bags went into effect July 1. France’s track record against the broader waste problem also includes a 2015 law mandating that large supermarkets donate unsold food to charities or animal feed producers rather than throwing it away.

But as far as the plastic dishware ban, it’s important to understand the terminology. According to AP coverage of the announcement, the law gives manufacturers until 2020 to ensure that “all disposable dishes sold in France are made of biologically sourced materials and can be composted.” Environmental advocates are often quick to point out that terms like “bioplastic” and “compostable” are often mere marketing buzzwords without a single meaning. In today’s market, “bio” often means the material will break down in a shorter time frame or break into tiny non-biodegradable plastic particles. These product naming conventions are rarely policed by legislation, although California became an exception to the norm in 2013 by declaring that “compostable” products must meet ASTM standards for the term.

Compostable plastics are still generally controversial, and their use varies widely. Even bioplastic cups are usually coated with a thin layer of “regular” plastic to keep drinks from leaking out. But cities such as San Francisco collect these with compost anyway, citing that there is typically no visible plastic after composting the cups. An interesting 2011 study found that those tiny plastic fragments actually contaminate the compost and become food for worms and insects. Other research has shown that these microplastic particles eventually get washed out and flow into bodies of water, potentially contaminating those as well.

France’s legislation has had a rough ride since its introduction. It’s faced obvious opposition from plastics and packaging manufacturers, some of whom are looking to sue the French government for violating EU laws supporting free movement of goods. Ecologists wanted the law to take effect next year, but the country’s Environment Minister postponed it over concerns that those facing financial struggles depend on plastic utensils and dishes. Whatever the outcome of the legislation, it’s a positive attempt at tweaking human impact on the environment.

Image credit: Shari's Berries / CC BY 2.0

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#1

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 2:03 PM

Why can't people just eat with their hands, what's the big deal?

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#14
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 11:42 AM

Self portrait.

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#2

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 4:04 PM

Personally I am quite annoyed, to be polite which is rare, with the state of our plastics enlarge.

I was born in 1974 and growing up I was told that our plastics would last for hundred if not thousands of years.

BS. 42 years later I damn well know very little of it lasts more than a few decades and even less of the bulk of what has been made will make it much past the century mark before having become so broken down, for any number of reasons, that it's useless for its original intention.

To be honest I have a near daily fight with plastics that never made it a year or two before falling apart, many look fine but literally turn to ash when touched.

I have came across countless items made of suposedly high durability plastics like HDPE, LDPE, PETE, PVC, Vinyl and such that after a decade or two are noticeably breaking down to outright broken down into useless brittle crumbly powdery junk and much of it was never in applications where it was ever directly exposed to sunlight or weathering in general.

I want my 1000 year life expectancy plastics I was told about as a kid dammit!

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#3
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 4:44 PM

Well I have to chip in here, I just watched a pair of $100 tennis shoes become worthless as the foam that holds the soles on crumbled into little black pieces all over the floor...couldn't be repaired....but all of the sudden I realized I had bought 2 pairs and had one in reserve, I pulled 'em out and was wearing them around for 2 days when the same thing happened to the second pair....WTF? The top section is new!! the soles have no wear! .. The shoes were about 3 or 4 years old, and evidently programmed to self destruct regardless of whether they were being worn or not.....When I went to clean up the little pieces of black foam bits all over the place the handle of my vacuum cleaner had formed a gummy gooky surface, the plastic was experiencing some sort of chemical breakdown, it was like tar and took a while to clean it off....I noticed the same thing happening on my umbrella handle when I had to use it the other day, by the time I got inside the store from the car my hands looked like I just changed a tire....I had to throw it away...I've had it with biodegradable...

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#5
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 7:10 PM

I thought it was just the cheapo Walmart shoes I buy that did that.

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#7
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 8:24 PM

Planned obsolescence and environmental protection working hand-in-hand--a win-win for somebody...

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#4

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 5:02 PM

I have plastic items that are not intended for single-use. Would these items be against the law to sell them after 2020 in France? Or will people simply purchase a 600 pack of re-usable spoons? Quite frankly, the better quality plastic forks and spoons clean up quite nicely in the dishwasher. We recycle all the plastic cutlery, plates, and cups that we use. Sometimes, if we're camping we recycle it the old-fashioned way.

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#8
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 9:55 PM

I've made the mistake of putting something in the attic in a plastic garbage bag to keep the dust off. The next time I saw it, it was sitting there under a pile of shredded plastic.

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#32
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 4:53 PM

Raccoons in the attic don't count as recycling plastic bags.

I like plastic ware. I can eat tidily using it, even my pet bird eats his oatmeal off it.

It washes, but mostly I throw it away, since the wife stopped properly washing dishes. Mostly, it is her science experiments in the kitchen sink with plates, bowls, and silverware that continue to amaze me:

1) slime can grow on water covering dishes within 30 milliseconds (exaggeration)

2) there is no such thing as "stainless" steel

3) there ain't no way in hell, I am eating off bowls that formerly served the cat in the garage. A man has to draw the freaking line somewhere.

4) Most places I frequent for evening meals provide plastic ware with the salad, soup, etc. This is a no brain required system. Open mouth, shovel it in, go on watching sitcoms.

5) Even if they stop providing plastic ware in France, who needs a fork for French fries? By the way, le soup de jour, is French Onion. Who needs a spoon for that. What you need is a good stiff loaf of French Bread, the soup in a bowl, and that's it! If it is still a problem after the bread is gone, just drink it for crying out loud. One does not need a fork (OK maybe a pitchfork or an ax) to sing La Marseillaise.

Who makes up all these damned rules in society these days? Fourth grade girls?

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#33
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 6:18 PM

Pretty much....

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#6

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 7:32 PM

I don't care too much one way or the other BUT, I really hate those paper cups made for bathrooms. They turn soft and spill water almost as soon as you fill them. The plastic cups not only work better, but last longer too. I reuse the same cup probably 20 times before I do my weekly household waste round-up and toss it into the trash. So that's at least 20 paper cups not tossed into the trash.

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#9
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/25/2016 11:00 PM

I can remember when fast food restaurants used the heavy wax coated paper cups for everything. It took them at least a day or two for a liquid to soak through.

What ever happened to them? They were by my judgement 100% biodegradable.

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#13
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 10:54 AM

Two observations:

Bars that serve drinks in plastic or paper cups have lots of fights. It's hard to pound out someone's brains or slit their throat with the business end of a paper cup. Civilized bars use glassware.

Second: How can France be so environmentally unfriendly. Once the plastic is in the ground, the carbon, obviously from petrochemicals, is effectively sequestered. To be responsible, France should be requiring that plastic knives need to weigh about two pounds apiece and forks and spoons at least a pound and a half and that are required to go immediately into a landfill. The added benefit is that in a couple of hundred years, someone will go prospecting and be able to open a profitable styrene mine.

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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 1:49 PM

From Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy Radio Fit 11

LINTILLA:
You see? These different strata in the rock face of the shaft represent the successive pages of this planet’s history.
ARTHUR:
Oh yes. Isn’t that interesting.
LINTILLA:
Interesting? It’s frightening!
ARTHUR:
Is it? Well, actually it just looks like a slice of layer cake to me.
LINTILLA:
Well why did you say it looked interesting?
ARTHUR:
Oh, well, I’m quite interested in layer cake.
LINTILLA:
Look at it. Doesn’t anything strike you?
ARTHUR:
Well it’s… it’s rock isn’t it?
LINTILLA:
Down here we have layer after layer: the remains of early settlements, one on top of another. Then more layers, thicker ones - the remains of cities, each built on the ruins of the previous one. We’re talking about thousands of years you see! And then suddenly above this level, what?
ARTHUR:
Er… more rock?
LINTILLA:
What’s special about it?
ARTHUR:
Uhhh. Well it’s all smooth with no layers.
LINTILLA:
Yes. No further building, no one actually living on the planet, or at least on its surface. So this previous layer is the significant one. And do you know what it consists of?
ARTHUR:
Rock?
LINTILLA:
No.
ARTHUR:
Er, stone?
LINTILLA:
No.
ARTHUR:
Umm, some different sort of rock the name of which temporarily escapes me?
LINTILLA:
No! Feel it. Scratch it.
ARTHUR:
Oh yes… It’s slightly sort of soft and crumbly.
LINTILLA:
What’s it like?
ARTHUR:
Errr… I know! It’s um -
LINTILLA:
Yes?!
ARTHUR:
What’s the name of that soft, crumbly sort of rock?
LINTILLA:
But it isn’t rock.
ARTHUR:
Well what is it then?
LINTILLA:
Shoes.
ARTHUR:
What?!
LINTILLA:
Shoes. Billions of them! An entire archaeological layer of compressed shoes.
ARTHUR:
Shoes?! How can you tell?
LINTILLA:
We knew all along, we just needed confirmation.

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#10

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 12:43 AM

Is someone trying to make the argument that it is worse to put plastic non biodegradable utensils in a landfill than make them biodegradable, and put them in a landfill? I do not see any practical difference, Isn't that a place designed for collecting refuse? The volumes we are talking about are tiny, the impact is tiny, the idea is useless.

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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 7:10 AM
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#12
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 9:26 AM

exactly, isn't this the stuff we want in the landfill? Not in the ocean or ditch?

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#38
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/01/2016 9:30 AM

Point is, the more of the plastics stuff that gets made (and handed out at fast-food outlets,kids parties etc.), the higher the chances are that more won't get as far as landfill and will end up in the oceans.

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#39
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/01/2016 9:51 AM

France is not considering the fundamental economic strategy utilizing the principle that making something more expensive reduces demand, but instead using the social principle that some people don't care about the important stuff, but only about making money, and that in order to make a real impact, regulations are required banning things. That is certainly true in the US, re cigarettes, pollution, (taxes and EPA regs, which act like taxes) etc.

I just don't think, in the scheme of things, that plastic cutlery is that big of a problem. Excessive CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions (like those produced by deforestation (regulations are the only answer) and beef production (taxes will work) are problems. Anyone who thinks this is a good place to moan about climate change, have at it. Like Trump supporters, you will regret it and wonder why you did it. I had a mullet 35 years ago. It will pass.

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#42
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/02/2016 2:26 PM

Dolphins need sporks too! Dolphin lives matter!

I can still see evolution having to come up with a ground-dwelling species that has to pole vault over mounds of discarded or lost stainless steel flatware.

Plastic ones, not so much. Plastic is good for you, your wallet, and is handy when the dishes do not get washed on time, the game is on, and you have ice cream to consume. Ever try eating ice cream with chop sticks? Hell no.

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#43
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/02/2016 6:52 PM

SS flatware is fine for me. I have some that must be about 40 years old. Mouth, wafers and fingers (and a wash after) are good for icecream.

Big problem with plastic in the oceans is that it gets ground down to tiny bits, which small sea-critters mistake for food, and either die of starvation (or from clogged guts) or pass the pain up to the next thing up the food-chain that eats them.

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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/03/2016 9:17 AM

I agree that flotsam consisting of giant islands of plastic is not my idea of a good time had by all. It looks however, like a gold mine to some, who should get out there and scoop it up! Heck it has already been washed. Take it to India, and make parking curbs out of it, or something, like shelter.

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#24
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 8:59 AM

In "newer" land fills, the decomposition rate is extremely low thanks to the exclusion of oxygen by compacting and layering. I recall reading articles where old landfills were archeologically dug and even newspapers over 100 years old are still readable.

Perchance this is where the 1000 year life of plastics will be achieved¿

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#15

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 11:48 AM

Simple answer : recyclable cutlery. No landfill required.

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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 11:50 AM

You'll poke your eye out, kid.

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#17
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 12:02 PM

what do you propose those chopsticks are recycled into? particle board? It would far more environmentally responsible to put that in a landfill. Dust to dust, and all that.

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#18
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 12:17 PM

Ashes, carbon dioxide and water vapor.

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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 12:36 PM

is there any context to your post that could help me understand it?

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#20
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 1:23 PM

He's talking about all the carbon dioxide human induced greenhouse gasses that will be unleashed on the environment through the indiscriminate incineration of chopsticks.

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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 5:26 PM

Bingo.

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#23

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/26/2016 8:39 PM

I miss the wooden spoons that came with the ice cream cups.

Remember when at the end of the barbecue you "burn the dishes".

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#25

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 9:32 AM

The "spork" will be exempt from the government ban due to it's low population placing it on the "Endangered Species" list. Without competition from the fork, knife and spoon, it's native populace should return to pre-human levels.

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#26
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 10:33 AM

I'm afraid it is more likely to turn into a sporkpocalypse where the mutant cutlery will overrun the countryside. Their offspring will end up spontaneously mutating back in unpredictable forms, resulting in deadlier forms like the Spovel and the sprake, leading to landscape devastation. Even, oh horrors, the stainless steel spork! (Although I think I saw one of those in 2001 a Space Odyssey).

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#27

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 2:21 PM

They need to ban something even worse than plastic - men in mankinis at their Tour de France. Pollutes my eyes.

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#28
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 2:42 PM

Like a Scotsman on a ladder.

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#29
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 2:47 PM

Well that never shows up on my TV screen every July. The mankinis do.

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#30

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 2:52 PM

This is definitely off topic but someone had to bring up mankinis.

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#31
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 2:57 PM

GONE BLIND! CAN'T TYPE MUCH LONGER! AAAGGGGHHHHHHHhhhhhh...

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#35
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 9:08 PM

Ok, thanks. Now, how the hell am I going to get that off my retinas? Maybe Queen's bicycle racing could overwrite this image.

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#41
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/02/2016 2:23 PM

That image cannot be erased even with bit bleach! That is one the top ten list of most disgusting photographs in the historical record, or the hysterical record, and rides atop either list in the #1 all-time revolting image.

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#34

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/27/2016 9:04 PM

The community center got a shitload onions donated. We were eating French onion soup for a month. And nobody would take the French bread home either, so there was plenty of that. They also wouldn't take the pita breads. But that was OK. I would go play Frisbee with the ducks.

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#36

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

10/28/2016 5:55 PM

So what is the total energy, man hours, water for washing, per stainless utensil?

Now what is the total energy, man hours, for making a plastic utensil?

New what is the average life expectancy of the stainless utensils?

Anymore I would be surprised if it is more that 5 years.

So what is the ratio comparison of the two.

I don't know if this is like the plastic grocery bags.

Paper bags cost more and you can only fit a fraction in the same space for shipping and storage.

The downside is the plastic bags blowing like tumbleweeds if you are not careful with them.

There is no reason they couldn't make durable plastic goods other than greed and irresponsibility.

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#37
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Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/01/2016 8:50 AM

I can see a whole generation of advanced dinosaurs 2-3 million years from now attempting to walk through a field of discarded stainless steel dinner ware (forks mostly, since I can never find one in the drawer), and cursing the former human race for covering the surface of the planet with discarded or lost forks.

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Guru
Hobbies - Model Rocketry - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: East of Seattle, Washington state Republic of the 50 states of America
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#40
In reply to #37

Re: France Will Ban Plastic Cutlery in 2020

11/01/2016 1:04 PM

Most of the stainless plated silverware I have seen only outlasts the plastic for only an order or two of magnatude. I think your dinosaurs are safe from all but us that would make our own out of 317L and better!-)

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