New ways of dealing with litter

13th of September 2017
New ways of dealing with litter

As French reporter Christian Bouzols writes, the country’s litter problem demands radical action.

Keeping French beaches and public places clean, particularly in the south of the country, is a matter of major concern.

Local authorities involved with this problem are often overworked due to the lack of civic-mindedness and negligence of the public, and have therefore been led to take a number of initiatives, some of which are quite radical. Here are some examples.

In Marseilles, which is reputed to be one the least clean large cities in France, Monique Cordier, vice-president of the Provence territorial council for Marseilles made it known in early August that she had filed complaints against nine “litter delinquents”.

One of the prosecutions was against garage owners who were fly-tipping used tyres on public roads, treating them as open landfills.

“These garage owners are throwing away old tyres in any way they choose, because they’re refusing to pay landfill charges. So they just fly-tip them in the streets. In addition some craftsmen, if you can call them that, just leave their bulky items on the street, which causes a lot of work to our cleaning teams,” she said in a interview with the France Bleu Provence radio station.

These nine people have been identified by means of their vehicle number plates, given that it’s quite difficult to catch fly-tippers red handed. They are liable to fines of €7,500.

At Deauville, a popular resort on the Normandy coast local authorities are also compelled to wage a daily war against the negligent and civically inconsiderate behaviour of tourists and residents. The mayor has just enacted a bylaw obliging residents to place their dustbins in orderly fashion or face fines by the municipal police.

A buzz on Facebook

In Nice, on the French Riviera the mayor’s deputy in charge of urban cleaning, Pierre Paul Leonelli, opted for the use of Facebook rather than prosecuting offenders. His post contains three photos showing town employees on a beach whose white sands are covered with a large amount of litter. 

“Each day from 05.00 onwards, cleaning operatives are relentlessly at work, clearing the beaches of Nice so that vacationers and the citizens of the town can enjoy a clean shoreline as from 08.00 despite the lack of public-spiritedness of some people.” This Facebook post has been shared hundreds of time and has produced thousands of ‘likes’. Will it raise public awareness?

Preventative measures

On the Atlantic coastline of the Landes, they’re not resorting to fines either but rather to preventative measures carried out by cleanliness ambassadors who, during the whole summer, have been crisscrossing beaches in order to sensitise tourists to the issue of litter management and the consequences of cigarette ends and plastic bags being just “forgotten” on the sand.

Another worthwhile initiative is the one launched by the Ocean Ride organisation, which runs a network of paddle board rentals (these crafts allowing people to navigate in a standing position by means of an oar). For each bag full of litter that the user brings back on shore, he or she is given an extra half-hour of paddle board usage, which is a striking approach that is both original and environmentally friendly.


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