The diagnosis was not long in coming. The former boss of the CAC40 converted to wooden construction Guillaume Poitrinal castigated on X (ex-Twitter) “the madness of European bureaucracy”, in unison with most Internet users. The cause of this dismay? The announcement of a possible ban on the wooden box in which Camembert is packaged, as well as other cheeses popular with the French such as Mont d'or, due to European regulations on the recycling of packaging.
The text of the law proposed by Brussels provides in particular for the replacement of wooden cheese packaging with recycled plastic by 2030. “The wooden box – low carbon, light, biodegradable, made in France – is better for planet than plastic from Saudi oil, transformed in China with coal-fired electricity, and which will end up in the ocean,” said Guillaume Poitrinal on X. The entrepreneur was supported by the president of the Foundation de la Mer, Sabine Roux de Bézieux, who described this change as “aberrant”.
At the origin of this misdeed is a European text entitled “PPWR” for “Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation”. This is a proposed law from the Commission aimed at harmonizing the rules on the packaging of consumer products across the continent. A recurring demand from manufacturers, who currently have to deal with different legislation depending on the country. One of the flagship measures of this PPWR is to make all packaging recyclable on the European Union market by 2030.
However, the wooden boxes used to package cheeses such as Camembert do not have a dedicated recycling channel. Despite fairly significant production, which represents 2,000 jobs in France, it would be too expensive to create a logistics chain to recycle Camembert and Mont d'or boxes. Especially since the European Commission's proposal specifies that recycling packaging must be “economically viable”.
The text, as it stands, has not been voted on by the European Parliament and even less endorsed by France. No one knows if this provision will be retained with regard to these French gastronomic treasures. Camembert producers insist on the importance of wood in maturing and therefore the taste of their cheese. The same goes for the Mont d’or, whose spruce wood strapping is inseparable from the specifications of the protected designation of origin.