France to expands its anti-waste laws from January

A waste collector hard at work in Paris. France is to make it a crime for businesses to throw away or destroy various unsold goods.
France is to make it a crime for businesses to throw away or destroy various unsold goods. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)
France made global headlines back in 2016 when it banned the destruction of unsold food products. From the start of 2022, this ban will be extended to other unsold items including electronics and hygiene products.

It will be illegal to destroy a range of unsold goods in France from January 1st – part of the government’s objective of creating a “circular economy” and reducing waste. 

Currently, some €280 million worth of unsold goods are destroyed every year in France, mostly through incineration. 

From 2022, it will be illegal to destroy the following unsold items: 

  • Electronic products
  • Textiles, clothes and shoes
  • Furniture
  • Ink cartridges
  • Hygiene products 
  • Food preservation and cooking equipment
  • Leisure products
  • Books and school equipment

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The government says that importers, producers and distributors are among the main target groups of the law. When France banned the destruction of unsold food products in 2016, food distribution charities benefited greatly. There could be a similar result as a result of this new legislation, with charity organisations seeing their stock rise. 

The law allows fines of up to €15,000 for those who violate the new measures. 

This legislation is simply an extension of a law enacted in 2020, which set out strict new anti-waste rules for businesses. For a guide to what you can or can’t do as a business when it comes to waste, read our guide HERE.
 
The overarching aim of the French government is to limit environmental damage caused by economic growth and it’s part of a series of anti-waste measures that have also targeted excess packaging and single-use plastics.
 
 

Member comments

  1. This is a positive step forward and one I hope more countries will adopt. It can eventually encourage manufacturers and distributors to factor redundancy into their processes and build in recycling as a part of the product life cycle as a matter of course, not the afterthought it presently tends to be.

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