Anti-waste law: government declares war on plastics and focuses on recycling

With the bill “for a circular economy” presented Wednesday, July 10, in the Council of Ministers, the government declares the war on plastic and relies on recycling and the instructions to win the battle against waste. Expected by industrialists, communities such as consumer and environmental associations, the text of fifteen articles will be examined by parliament at the start of the school year.

With this text, “we want to build the ecology of everyday life, enter the economy of the 21st century, one where we consume less and better, where we stop producing in order to destroy”, explained on BFMTV Brune Poirson, secretary from State to Ecological Transition.

“Yes (…) we must assume to consume less, to consume differently, to ensure that we drastically reduce a certain number of objects (of) our daily life”, she insisted during the count – report of the Council of Ministers.

Sort, recycle, repair, record: the challenges are multiple

Avoiding pollution and pollution linked to waste, preserving resources and the climate, promoting jobs that cannot be relocated by developing repairs: the challenges are multiple. Like garage owners today, repairers will need to be able to offer used spare parts. And like physical stores, online distributors will have to take back used products for any sale of new product.

The text prohibits the destruction of new non-food products (650 million euros each year in France) but does not specify whether they will have to be reused or recycled.

Brune Poirson underlined that the landfill of waste is decreasing too slowly while the objective is to halve it by 2025: between 2012 and 2018, it fell by only 3%.

A “bonus-penalty” to encourage the incorporation of recycled materials

To reinforce the polluter pays principle, a “bonus-malus” will encourage the incorporation of recycled materials into products. This is in fact a reinforced modulation of eco-contributions of up to 20% of the price of products.

“The recycling rate is far too low in France, we can win this battle to reduce waste at source,” François de Rugy, the Minister of Ecology, said on France Inter. “It is a great ecological and economic battle since it is a resource for our companies”.

New sectors will have to take charge of the treatment of their waste

The text must also force new sectors to take charge of the treatment of their waste, hitherto supported by the communities.

Toys, sports and DIY items, cigarettes (30 billion cigarette ends thrown away each year in France, a large part of which in nature) and wipes, from 2024, are in the sights.

Construction materials will also be concerned, the source of “70% of waste in France” (against 13% for household waste), according to Ms. Poirson. “Unauthorized deposits cost taxpayers EUR 340 million per year. Each year the equivalent of a Lille-Marseille road is thrown into the carpet,” she said.

All these proposals must now find their application modalities in future decrees and regulations.

Thus, a steering committee on the conditions for the return of the deposit will still work for several months in order to improve the recovery of the containers, for recycling or reuse.

The different players in the chain are already showing differences

No details are known yet: will the deposit only concern plastic? the cans? glass? Above all, the various players in the chain are already showing differences.

“I hope that the State is in the maneuver so that the interests of communities, recycling companies are respected. The infrastructure and the cost of implementing the deposit will be supported by manufacturers, at least at 80%, “replied Ms. Poirson to those who fear that the communities, today responsible for collecting packaging, lose a source of income and find themselves with over-sized treatment sites.

“The State with this law will set the objectives, give the frameworks, will organize the recycling channels on a national scale”, assured François de Rugy, during the report of the Council of Ministers. But he also promised “a partnership approach between the State and inter-municipal structures”.

The UFC-Que Choisir falls under “positive” proposals but wants the “repairability” index to be well displayed. “Creating new REP channels (for recycling, Editor’s note) is very good, the problem is that we must also act on the insufficient results of existing channels”, adds Mathieu Escot, head of studies at the UFC.

For Friends of the Earth, the bill “contains real novelties on consumer issues”, but “is not up to the climate emergency”. “The greatest environmental and social advances (…) are formulated in the conditional”, adds the association.

(With AFP)