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France's pioneering Circular Economy Roadmap

France's pioneering Circular Economy Roadmap
by Ellen Thornton at 14:58 in Circular Economy, Emerging, Environmental

Earlier this year, the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition released their Circular Economy Roadmap (FREC) which is an operational transition from a linear ‘make, consume, throw' economic model to a circular model that integrates the entire product life cycle. This covers ecodesign, management of waste, consumption and reduction of waste. There are a set of coherent, balanced and structured measures to enable all stakeholders to ‘enter the loop' and to enable France to meet certain targets of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda. ​

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Extending the life of everyday objects through better information on the product life cycle and more consumer protection is one of the measures in the roadmap. From 2020, it will become mandatory to display simple information on the lifespan through an index that will include criteria on repairability and durability for electrical and electronic appliances. A survey conducted in 2016 on 400 establishments in the field of electrical and electronic equipment has highlighted deficiencies in 50% of cases in terms of consumer information on the legal guarantee of compliance and the availability of spare parts. Hence, there will be an increase in the duration of the legal guarantee of conformity for household appliances and reinforcement of the controls of the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumption and the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF). Digital platforms mapping repair and re-use services should be promoted to ensure that information on these services are available to the public. ​

A second goal of the roadmap is to reach 100% of recyclable waste collection by 2025 and make the sorting of waste much easier in France. They aim to do this by simplifying and harmonising waste sorting rules throughout the country, both in homes and in public spaces. By 2022, all sorting centres will be modernised, and people will be able to put all the packaging in the yellow bin in addition to harmonising the colours of the containers or lids of rubbish bins. The collection of recyclable packaging, plastic bottles and cans can be increased though voluntary measures in communities in the densest urban areas where collection rates are the lowest. From 2021 onwards, it will become mandatory to affix the Triman label to packaging and products intended for households which are obligated under extended producer responsibility schemes. The Triman should be accompanied by information on the sorting or the materials that make up the packaging. To avoid any confusion to the consumer of sorting or the recyclability of products or packaging, affixing other symbols or labels such as the green dot will be prohibited.

To encourage local authorities to recycle and recover more waste, there will be an incentive deployed to charge for waste collection with pricing increasing with the quantity of waste. Hence, incentive to sort and reduce waste in households is increased. Additionally, the tax system will be adapted to make the recovery of waste cheaper than its elimination, by reducing the rate of VAT on prevention activities, separate collection, sorting, material recovery of waste and increasing the rates of the general tax on waste, polluting activities, landfilling and incineration.

Companies in all sectors need to manage their waste better and seize industrial opportunities to produce more efficiently, more sustainably and use fewer resources. The roadmap plans to build on new producer responsibility chains and set new ambitions for existing sectors, to contribute to circular economy and the development of new industrial sectors. There are currently fifteen types of extended producer responsibility scheme in place in France, there will be more introduced for toys, sports and leisure items and home and garden items.

Ecodesign, incorporation of recycled materials, re-use and repair should be incorporated into business practices. This will be done through the introduction of bonuses-malus on the eco-contribution to provide incentives. 10% of the price of products may be added on in the absence of ecodesign and incorporation of recycled material. To encourage ecodesign, voluntary environmental labelling of products and services will be introduced in five pilot sectors – furniture, textiles, hotels, electronics and food – and will be extended to other sectors sometime this year. There should be voluntary commitments from all stakeholders for an ambitious plastics sector, including targets for volumes of use of recycled plastics in the packaging, building, automobile or electronic and electrical equipment sectors. Producers should be enabled to support investments in recycling and the production of products made from recycled materials by bearing the financial risks associated with variation in the price of raw materials. Additionally, there should be re-use and repair targets set for EPR chains.

We will be tracking these changes in France on LinkedIn and twitter. If you have any questions about the circular economy and EPR, please contact us here to speak to one of our consultants. If you are interested in reading more articles and blogs similar to this one, sign up to our free monthly digest.​

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