A deposit for plastic bottles in France? The government is relaunching the debate

A deposit for plastic bottles in France?  The government is relaunching the debate
The plastic bottle collection rate is capped below 60% in France, far from European targets. Imprint Studio / Adobe Stock

Agrifood manufacturers, associations of elected officials, consumers and NGOs are invited from Monday, January 30 by the Secretary of State for Ecology Bérangère Couillard, who intends to decide in June.

Buy a bottle of water a little more expensive then bring it back to the supermarket, empty, against a few cents returned by an automaton? Or improve the sorting of plastic waste, at home and on the street, to increase recycling volumes? The government is relaunching on Monday, January 30, a debate on the possible implementation of deposits for plastic bottles in France, an initiative envisaged by the government during the vote on the anti-waste law for a circular economy (Agec) in 2020, but aborted under strong opposition from local communities.

Food industry, bottling, supermarkets, associations of elected officials, consumers and NGOs, some 70 stakeholders are invited from Monday by the Secretary of State for Ecology Bérangère Couillard, who intends to decide in June. In countries where it exists, such as Germany, the deposit – i.e. the reimbursement of the container to consumers who return their empty bottles to a collection point – works well and makes it possible to increase recycling rates.

The European targets for the collection rate of plastic bottles are 77% in 2025 and 90% in 2029. However, France’s performance is capped below 60% because plastic packaging is not collected well enough, or even not sorted from the everything in most street bins or workplaces. “Thanks to the dialogue that will take place over several months, we will be able to make the decision that best meets our main objectives: to achieve a better bottle collection rate, aim for 100% recycled plastic, develop reuse and fight against deposits. wild“, declared Bérangère Couillard last week, inviting consultation.

In the government, it is accepted that the imposition of a deposit on plastic bottles, a provision withdrawn in extremis during the vote on the Agec law under pressure from communities, would have had the effect of reducing the flow of plastic in yellow bins household waste sorted for recycling, and to reduce the income of sorting centers run by municipalities. Negotiated between 600 and 700 euros per tonne, PET plastic for recycling has indeed become a godsend for them.

Wild lockers

And sorting centers have invested heavily in expensive machines to improve sorting, material by material and package by package. This has finally made it possible, after more than a decade of preparations, to simplify sorting instructions for almost all French people since January 1, opening up the hope of finally increasing recycling volumes.

From now on, all packaging of any kind must be thrown into the yellow bins: all plastics (PET, polystyrene, PVC, etc.), aluminum cans or aerosols, steel cans, and of course paper and cardboard. . But automatons for collecting bottles are multiplying everywhere, we recognize at the ministry, sorts of “wild dumps (…) that will have to be organized“. Because everyone has an interest in recovering this plastic: plastics manufacturers must include a minimum percentage of recycled plastic in their products to fulfill their European climate obligations; the communities derive an income from it. In some cities, these depositswild» ont «leads parallel networks to carry out looting of yellow trash cans to supply automatons“, we note from the same source.

The deposit has advantages. In the countries where it exists, it significantly increases the plastic collection rate, argue the professionals. It is also of interest to distributors because the vending machines attract certain customers who had deserted supermarkets since the Covid period, notes an observer. Conversely, “the deposit monetizes a sorting gesture, which risks being completely devalued“criticizes Nicolas Garnier of the association Amorce, which brings together the communities organizing the collection and sorting of waste. “It risks reducing the mobilization of the French to sort their waste at home“. The deposit also leads to an additional food cost for the improvident who forget to bring back their empty bottles, since they will not recover the “caution» paid for the purchase of their bottle.

HAVEALSO – “There will be an anti-ecological populism which will be very powerful”, warns Dominique Reynié


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