Recycling around the world, France

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France disposes of 355 million tonnes of waste every year, making it the second biggest producer of waste in the EU. They manage to recycle around 64% of this waste however, through recycling efforts and incineration.

 

What makes up France’s waste?

70% of the waste the country generates is mineral waste from construction. The rest consists of household waste (29 million tonnes), the service industry (22 million tonnes), Sewage (15 million tonnes) and fishing and agricultural waste (1.7 million tonnes). 3% of the waste disposed of is classed as hazardous waste.

Who oversees waste disposal?

Waste disposal services in France are provided by the local authorities in each district or commune and each area has its own rules on how certain items should be disposed of. But the rules generally require that glass, paper, cardboard and plastic bottles should be recycled and any rubbish that is put into the wrong bins will not be collected.

People who live in rural areas may not have a refuse collection service and have to take their waste to collection points instead. Those who do get a service have to pay for it in the form of a tax. Most of the collection services in these areas are run by private companies

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How is different waste recycled?

WHITE GOODS AND ELECTRONICS

White goods and electronics should be taken to the rubbish tip/recycling site called the dechetterie. To use the dechetterie, you must get a permit from the local town hall.  

If you buy electronics, whether it’s a kettle or a washing machine, the shop you bought it from is legally obliged to take if back from you when it is no longer of any use. The shop then must arrange to dispose of the items. Much less electronic waste ends up in landfill this way.

If you live in the same district as the rubbish tip, it won’t cost you anything to take items to the tip. You need to take proof of identity and address the first time you go however. 

CLOTHES

Recycling clothes is encouraged in France. Charity shops readily accept clothing but clothes that aren’t fit for resale can be taken to the dechetterie.

There’s a charitable organisation in France called Emmaus which restores and repairs unwanted goods, such as furniture and appliances. You can either take the item to the charity’s nearest store, or you can arrange for them to collect it.

 

HOUSEHOLD WASTE

Recycling household waste is becoming increasingly popular and many towns have facilities for doing so. Each area will have collection points for recycling and the containers will be colour coded for different types of items such as bottles, plastic, paper and tins. If you have items such as mirrors and light bulbs you will find that there are special containers for them at the dechetterie.

Items that are considered to be bulky (encombrants) will have their own special collection points in the larger towns but smaller towns will have no such facilities and individuals will have to take these themselves to the dechetterie.


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HAZARDOUS ITEMS

Some items are considered to be dangerous and there are special facilities for disposing of them. Batteries need to be taken to a collection point. Some shops will take used batteries off your hands or you can take them to the Mairie or dechetterie. If you have old tins of paint, vehicle oil or other chemical you need to take them to the dechetterie and use the special containers for them. Tyres cannot be taken to the dechetterie. You must take old tyres to the nearest garage as they are legally obliged to take them from you and dispose of them at no cost to yourself.

GREEN WASTE

If you have ‘green’ or garden waste then you will find that the local dechetterie has a facility for taking this and recycling it. Often it is turned into compost and in some areas there is a collection service for this type of waste.