There's no denying it – Paris is a dirty city.
It's practically impossible to walk for more than five seconds without seeing rubbish strewn around, waste bins overflowing or some of the 350 tonnes of cigarette butts thrown on the ground every year, oh and the dog poo.
Then there are the beer cans floating in the canals, the graffiti, the old mattresses lying around.
At times you think the city's garbage workers must be on strike. But then when you see how bad it gets when they do go on strike, as they did in October last year, you realize it's just par for the course.
But this could all change as Paris finally plans to clean up its act. It now has a grand ambition to become a “model city for the rest of Europe” when it comes to street cleanliness (see headline below).
Paris Town Hall's cleanliness tsar Mao Peninou has written up a €25 million plan detailing how he would like to clean up the city's streets – once and for all.
One of the chief plans would see a total modernization of the cleaning hardware, especially things like leaf blowers, an overhaul that would come with a pricetag of €15 million.
The city also plans to hire an additional 79 garbage workers and 20 garbage truck drivers in 2016, which would bring the city's total number of rubbish collectors to 5,700.
And Parisians can expect another ten waste disposal centres in the city by 2020, the first of which would be built in the 19th arrondissement.
There will also be a focus on recycling, with new bins set up in the 2nd and 12th arrondissement where residents can sort their waste into different compartments – including one for food scraps.
“We were inspired by other experiments that already exist, we studied how it was set up in other large cities like San Francisco and Milan,” Peninou told French weekly Le Journal de Dimanche (JDD).
Paris will also see an “anti-incivility brigade” that will give the the city officials “a bigger clout”, Peninou has said. The agents will be able to hand out fines when they see people throwing litter or their cigarettes on the ground, for example.
Scenes from the October garbage strike. Photo: Patrick Auzou/Twitter
They'll also roll out 125,000 “pocket ashtrays”, small metal containers designed for smokers on the go.
There will also be an update to the “Dans Ma Rue” (“On My Street”) app, which was launched in 2013, and which allows ordinary inhabitants to send a photo of a rubbish eyesore to authorities in the hope of getting it cleaned faster.
There are also plans for an extra 50 public toilets installed around the city, some of which would be open 24 hours a day. This would take the city total to 450.
Lastly, there will be extra efforts to push volunteer help, as Paris saw in early June last year. A campaign called “Paris, make yourself beautiful” (Paris, Fais-toi belle) saw around 1,000 people out helping to clear up the streets.
City officials already spend around €500 million each year cleaning its 2,900 kilometres of footpaths – perhaps this €25 million addition could make all the difference.
The plans will be submitted to the Council of Paris on February 15th.