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French trash cans are still too full, warns the Court of Auditors

The volume of household waste is falling too slowly to meet environmental targets, the Court of Auditors warned on Tuesday, criticizing plastic recycling “lagging behind” compared to European neighbors, “insufficient” public management and “failing” data .

From 582 kg per inhabitant in 2019 and almost stable above the European average over the last decade, France aims to reduce waste production to 501 kg by 2030, a reduction of 15% in 20 years which will only be achieved in price of a strong acceleration of the current trend, warns the Court.

Progress remains to be made both on prevention, on selective sorting and on treatment, while 80% of the 249 kg per inhabitant of garbage thrown into the tote bin could be recovered if they were sorted, notes the report.

The municipal waste recycling rate reached 44% in 2018, slightly below the European average (47%), whereas the target of 55% was set for 2020, and far from the 67% in Germany.

Planned from 2024 and currently being tested successfully in several territories, the sorting of bio-waste, a third of non-recycled waste, is a major challenge.

The generalization of the yellow bin for all plastic waste, scheduled for the end of 2022, only reached 62% in the territory at the end of 2021.

Among the various recommended levers, the expansion of incentive pricing, which provides that households pay collection costs no longer based on the value of their home but on the volume of garbage produced.

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This tax has shown its effectiveness in reducing the tonnage collected and management costs, in France and abroad, but has only been implemented for only 6 million people today, not achieving the objective of 15million in 2020.

The State should finance 80% of the cost of its implementation by local authorities, the Court recommends. And, where tourism generates a surplus of waste, a surcharge on the tourist tax could finance the prevention and management of waste, according to the principle of the polluter pays.

In total, household waste represents 12% of waste produced in France, but mobilizes 61.5% of expenditure, or nearly 16 billion euros due to the vast collection and treatment needs. Too little money is allocated to prevention, however, regrets the Court.

The High Court also notes a faulty monitoring system with indicators that are both too numerous and published too late based on incomplete local data. It recommends setting up a dashboard with six key figures published each year.

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