Householders sort waste

15th of September 2010

French correspondent Christian Bouzols reports on how householders are being encouraged to sort their own waste.

Eco-Emballages is a nation-wide organisation entrusted with coordinating the recycling of household refuse in France. It has now decided to involve itself in educating the public by creating a showcase home, la Maison de Tri (the Screening Home) which is open to the public in Rennes, the capital of Brittany. With this initiative Eco-Emballages hopes to make the French public more aware of the issue of screening their own waste.

They’re hoping to achieve the aim of the Grenelle de l’Environnement (or Genelle Environment round table, a national discussion forum set up by President Sarkozy in 2007), which are to have 75 per cent of household packaging recycled by the end of 2010.

So Eco-Emballages is informing the public about the straightforward steps they can carry out in their homes. As 63 per cent of household packaging was recycled by the French in 2009, achieving the government objective will entail an improvement of 20 per cent. This effort will have to be carried out at two levels: sorting more waste packaging and improving the quality of the sorting. At present 84 per cent of all French people claim they’re sorting their unused packaging. The people of Britanny are very aware of the issue, but the act of sorting waste packaging items with a view to their recycling has to be become a national reflex.

On a national average, each French person still sends 20 kg of items such as glass bottles and jars for landfill and incineration, whereas they should all be recycled. The same is true of plastic bottles and other containers. Only one such item out of two is currently being recycled, the aim now being to bring this proportion to two-thirds.

Another aim is to recruit young people, aged between 15 and 33, to work as sorters in large housing estates. In 2008 194,932 tons of household packaging was sorted in Britanny for recycling, representing 62.7 kg per inhabitant. In France the average for that year was 44.5 kg. “What we have to do is to clarify, explain and support each citizen-sorter in his or her task of sorting unused packaging items from the home," said Catherine le Pober,  who manages Eco-Emballages Ouest. The aim is “also to convince young adults to become sorters in residential buildings”, she said.

To this end, Eco-Emballages is working with local authorities (to help in bringing the message home and to give financial support to people broadcasting the recycling message) and with companies (to be their partners in publishing information on how to handle packages after consuming the product, to develop training in environmental design, etc). All these actions and partnerships will result in guiding the public towards becoming 'sorter-citizens' and accepting the importance of this role.

About Eco-Emballages: Created in 1992 as a joint venture between major consumer product companies and the government, Eco-Emballages brings together the protagonists of the screening and recycling of packaging. It also helps companies to produce eco-friendly packaging designs, reduce the volume of packaging, to fund selective collection and improve efficiency. Government-approved, Eco-Emballages is supported by 47,000 companies. About 92 per cent of its budget is dedicated to helping local authorities fund selective collection.


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