Appeal for public spiritedness in France

22nd of May 2018 Article by Christian Bouzols
Appeal for public spiritedness in France

French reporter Christian Bouzols on how the authorities are tackling litter more positively.

During its first stage the new campaign to keep Paris clean, launched at the end of March, aimed at shocking the population by showing pictures of Paris covered by heaps of plastic bags, cigarette ends and bottles.

But during a second stage the authorities decided it was better to convey a different message. “We chose to thank the Parisians for the positive things they had done in placing their litter in the 30,000 waste bins deployed across the city and for stubbing their cigarettes in them. This was both a positive message and a call to further mobilisation,” say the municipal officials in charge.

“Having already had campaigns designed to teach, we turned to a campaign intended to encourage”, explains Mao Peninou, assistant to the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, in charge of cleaning operations. Once it had been concluded it wasn’t feasible to put a policeman behind every Parisian, it was decided people should be thanked for civic mindedness.

“We’ve seen changes in the use of public spaces. People are picnicking more and leaving their litter on site, particularly on canal banks. Bulky items are being left in building entrances. The main problem however, is fly tipping and the absence of civic mindedness,” adds Peninou.

“During the past few months, our units - 3,200 operators - have increased threefold the number of fines imposed. Since 2017 our safety and security department has handed out 108,192 fines, representing an increase of 148 per cent over 2016.”

The fines relate to various offences, starting with fly tipping (a 213 per cent increase), throwing cigarette ends and urinating on the pavement (a 165 per cent increase).

“It was time to make a point”, insists Mao Peninou. The renewed cleanliness campaign launched by the town authorities was advertised on municipal notice boards, on 520 litter disposal skips, and on metro platforms.

While implementing this campaign the city has also acquired additional tools. This year 150 new street cleaning machines have been purchased. But the people of Paris also need to participate. The Dans ma Rue (on my street) app enabling anyone to report litter build-ups has been revised and upgraded.

Be it graffiti, fly tipped objects or badly kept building sites... anyone can now alert the authorities. With the first version of the app, launched in 2013, the Paris cleaning services received 215,300 messages. With the new version, it will be possible to send messages more directly and cleaning services will be able to intervene within 24 to 48 hours.

Some figures

Three thousand tonnes of litter are collected every day in the French capital. That’s equal to the weight of the Eiffel Tower being picked up every three days from street waste bins.

2,700 bulky items are carried away every day from the streets of Paris - 92,000 tonnes of material every year. Two-thirds are arranged in advance with the relevant authorities. The remainder is due to fly tipping.

63,478 fines were given for cleanliness offences during the first nine months of 2017 (an increase of 139 per cent over the same period of 2016).

€68 - that’s the fine for a cleanliness offence. Of all fines delivered, 43 per cent are due to fly tipping offences and 22 per cent to the throwing of cigarette ends on a public highway.

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