Picnics in France

I read a recent article in Accountancy Age and I couldn’t resist bringing it to the attention of our readers.

Plans for a “picnic tax” in France have been dropped “thankfully” after fierce opposition. The French Government had planned to introduce a tax on disposable plates, cups and cutlery to encourage people to use reusable products.

I am really not sure where I stand on the whole environmental question. Obviously, I am in favour of us saving the planet, but I feel that in many instances, it’s all gone too far. It is so easy for the general public to be bamboozled into thinking that products sold as being environmentally friendly are done so out of pure reasons of magnanimity and not driven by any ulterior profit motive.

Hybrid cars are prime example where a cynic might suggest that certain car manufacturers have simply been cashing in on a potentially lucrative slice of the market. From what I understand from my limited knowledge, the environmental cost in building and transporting the hybrid engines far outweighs their inherent environmental benefits.

A good friend of mine refers to people jumping on the “green bus” and argues forcefully that there are only a handful, albeit rather a large handful, of people and organisations that are genuinely committed to the environmental cause. They are then followed by a whole host of other organisations and individuals joining in for commercial reasons.

Governments are no different. Does the French government genuinely believe in the environmental “threat” of disposable knives and plates, or are they simply seeing it as another way of raising tax. Perhaps a better way of achieving the same result would be to encourage the manufacturers of environmentally friendly products, with grants, subsidies and tax breaks. This way, environmentally friendly products needn’t be more expensive to the consumer than their “unfriendly” equivalent.

Thankfully, the French prime minister saw sense and reversed the decision apparently with the bizarre statement saying that tax levies on the rich should be proposed as an alternative. The implication being that only the poor use disposable plates, cups and cutlery.

All rather odd!