Fighting back against litter

3rd of November 2017 Article by Christian Bouzols
Fighting back against litter

From France, Christian Bouzols reports on a major change in policy by the local authority responsible for tackling litter in Marseille.

Starting from September, the Aix-Marseille-Provence metropolitan authority, which is responsible for street cleaning and litter collection,has been deploying a new system to improve the cleanliness of downtown Marseilles, an area of great importance for the touristic attraction and reputation of Provence.

The French frequently talk of Marseilles, which is the country’s second city, as a “dirty” place, when it isn’t referred to as a “waste bin”. In order to improve this poor reputation, the local authority has decided to take some major initiatives.

These past months, it has launched a billboard campaign in the streets, at bus stops and on public transport with the wording “La propreté c’est nous, le civisme c’est vous!” (Cleanliness is our business, civic-mindedness is your business). Obviously, this campaign was directed towards some of the citizens of Marseilles who don’t show much consideration for the environment and for the issues that are caused by their behaviour.

More recently, the local authority has turned to private contractors in an attempt to improve the cleanliness situation in the heart of the city. These contractors are now tasked with collecting litter in streets and carrying out the maintenance of open spaces. Thus since September 1 the centre of Marseilles, which used to be cleaned by the local authority, has been put in the care of private companies contracted by the city.

“The aim here is to work under a guaranteed outcome scheme with a private service provider, now in charge of cleanliness. We shall take stock of the situation in a few weeks to assess the effectiveness of the new system. This will give time for the new teams to get to grips with their job and run in,” explained a spokesman for the city. This assessment of the situation should take place in the coming weeks.

During this past summer, Marseilles hasn’t been treated kindly by traders and the business community. The local authority therefore had to respond and, during this back-to-school period, the change of service provider came at a good time.

Late in August, Terre de Commerces, which is the federation of shopkeepers and local services providers of the Bouches-du-Rhône Département, denounced the rubbish strewn around Marseilles in a press release stating: “On Tuesday morning the centre of Marseilles is in a state of indescribable filth. Torn papers, broken bottles, litter...cover the pavements, squares and streets of our great town centre.”

It was a good time to act in order to change the image of a city whose reputation in terms of cleanliness definitely needed a boost. We now waits to see if the private sector will do any better than the public sector.

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