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ENVIRONMENT

All French households will have to be offered composting bin

Every household in France must be able to recycle food waste at home from January 1st, 2024, the government has announced, as local authorities will be obliged to offer composting bins.

All French households will have to be offered composting bin
(Photo by Eric Piermont / AFP)

All local authorities will be obliged to offer households means of sorting biodegradable waste at source, such as separate bins for collection, individual or collective composting.

The aim is to recycle bio-waste, which consists mainly of peelings, kitchen products and meal leftovers, in the form of compost or fuel instead of burying or burning it, in order to reduce greenhouse gas production.

Local authorities will have to propose solutions allowing households to carry out this sorting at home – although several dozen authorities across France already offer this service.

Currently, local authorities or businesses whose annual production exceeds 10 tonnes or 60 litres for oils are required to sort bio-waste at source. From January 1st, 2023, the volume will be lowered to five tonnes, before being abolished altogether – and therefore requiring all local authorities to act – on January 1st, 2024.

According to the Environmental Code, bio-waste is classed as “non-hazardous biodegradable garden or park waste, food or kitchen waste from households, offices, restaurants, wholesale trade, canteens, caterers or retail outlets, as well as comparable waste from food processing plants”.

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ENVIRONMENT

France to probe microplastic pellet pollution on Atlantic beaches

French prosecutors said on Friday they would investigate the appearance of vast quantities of tiny toxic plastic pellets along the Atlantic coast that endanger marine life and the human food chain.

France to probe microplastic pellet pollution on Atlantic beaches

The criminal probe will follow several legal complaints about the pellet invasion lodged by local authorities and the central government in Paris, Camille Miansoni, chief prosecutor in the western city of Brest, told AFP.

The microscopic pellets, called nurdles, are the building blocks for most of the world’s plastic production, from car bumpers to salad bowls.

They are usually packed in bags of 25 kilogrammes for transport, each containing around a million nurdles, which are sometimes called “Mermaids’ Tears”. 

But they can easily spill into the ocean when a cargo ship sinks or loses a container. Environmentalists also suspect that factories sometimes dump them into the sea.

Fish and birds often mistake them for food and, once ingested, the tiny granules can make their way into the diet of humans.

Experts told AFP the nurdles found along the coast of Brittany may have come from a plastic industry container that fell into the sea.

“We can’t rule out a single source for the industrial pellets,” said Nicolas Tamic at the CEDRE pollution research body in Brest.

On Tuesday, the French government filed a legal complaint against persons unknown and called for a international search for any containers that may have been lost at sea.

Local authorities have followed suit, and the environmental crime branch of the Brest prosecutor’s office will lead the investigation.

Last weekend, around 100 people took part in a clean-up campaign on a microplastic-infested beach in Pornic in Brittany to collect pellets and draw attention to the problem. 

“We think they’ve come from a container that may have been out there for a while and opened up because of recent storms,” said Lionel Cheylus, spokesman for the NGO Surfrider Foundation.

“Our action is symbolic. It’s not like we’re going to pick up an entire container load,” said Annick, a pensioner, as she filled her yoghurt pot with nurdles. 

French politicians have taken note. Joel Guerriau, a senator from the region, has called for a “clear international designation” of  the pellets as being harmful.

Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Bechu labelled the nurdles “an environmental nightmare”, telling AFP the government would support associations fighting pellet pollution.

Ingesting plastic is harmful for human health but nurdles, in addition, attract chemical contaminants found in the sea to their surface, making them even more toxic.

Measuring less than five millimetres in size, they are not always readily visible except when they wash up in unusually huge quantities, as has been the case since late November along the northwestern French coast.

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