Waste management in France

This week in France takes place a series of events that are due to reduce the amount of waste produced.

This is important as we are now producing nearly a kilogram per habitant per day. All this makes for the total population the equivalent of 2.800 Eiffel Tower. (or 28 million kilograms of waste each year)

The French daily Le Monde published yesterday an article on this issue and I propose you a selection of the main findings.

To the ADEME (“Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie” ; or Agency for Environment and Energy Conservation), our waste is made of 29 percent of perishable materials ; 25 percent of newspapers, papers and cartons ; 13 percent of glass ; 11 percent of plastics ; 4 percent of metals and the remainder are made of textiles and other things.

Local NGOs like the Nicolas Hulot Foundation urge people to decrease the amount of things they throw away and are angry at the lack of ambition of the government as there were no advances in this domain in the Grenelle.

Around 100 billion packagings are produced every year in France, and this makes five million tons of waste. The total amount of waste have doubled in the past 40 years.

This is even more important as the waste of management have seen their prices double between 1994 to 2004 ( from 75 to 150 € for a ton).

Concerning the management of all this waste, 42 percent are incinerated ; 40 percent are dumped ; and only 12 percent are recycled and 6 percent are used to make compost.

To French people sorting out is too complex which is a bad thing as sorting out and recycling enable to save money and resources.

We can do a lot better as in Austria, 59 percent of waste is recycled and in Wallonia, Belgium, this nears 70 percent. Still in Belgium, all housings have specific can for compost.

When will we go toward more sustainable ways of disposing from our wastes ? The French State Minister or Sustainable development Mr. Borloo expressed his willingness to go from a ” throwable economy ” to a sustainable one. Let us hope this will also concern soon waste.

Edit on November 8th : to be truly sustainable in it way of consuming, France should reverse the situation and make recycling and composting the two most used options. Burning and dumping should used when all else failed.

Indeed, recycling is a very good thing as it enable us to reuse raw materials and save huge amounts of energy and limit our need of resources.

Recycling a ton of paper enable us to make 900 kilograms of brand new writing material and glass can be recycled over and over again.

Composting is a good way to use the remnants of our meals for gardening. You can learn out more by reading the Wikipedia article on this matter. (The above picture comes from Wikipedia)

To finish this article, I would like to mention a great initiative. The association Rubbish Busters has been created to take an inventory of all unauthorized landfills in order to clean them up.

Sources [Fr] :

Further reading [Fr] :

Comment agir :

3 thoughts on “Waste management in France”

  1. Can’t believe I have only just found your site, am glad I found it, lots of good content here. I just added you to my bookmarks so I will be back again. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the the coming months.

  2. I am on the Parish Council where I live, We are going to have an incinerator built near us, Is it right France are considering not to build anymore due to health issues

  3. > Pamela : thanks for your comment.

    To my knowledge I have heard nothing like this. However, I know that one of the swimming pool I was going to last year had its water heated by the waste incinerator nearby.

    I think this could help you in your endeavor toward sustainability…

    Please tell me if you need further information.

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