” The war on plastic pollution is declared, ” promised Secretary of State for Environmental Transition Brune Poirson. Announced with great fanfare at the beginning of the summer, the anti-waste bill was to embody ” a real environmental turning point ” and materialize the government’s ambitions in the circular economy.
The text reveals the hypocrisy of the presidential communication, the discrepancy between his speeches and his actions. The Senate seem to be againts the bill. A broad consensus in the Chamber from the Republicans to the Communists, through environmentalists in criticizing his ” lack of seriousness ” and this ” scam ” .
The text opens the way to a privatization of collection and recycling for the benefit of large industrial groups. The president of the senatorial commission, Hervé Maurey ( UDI – UC ),describes it as an ” ecological regression ” .
” The government has excluded from its device glass bottles “
The government simply means recycling single-use plastic bottles and not reusing household packaging. In the scenario provided by the bill, the consumer will have to pay a deposit of about 15 cents in addition to the price of the bottle or can. It will be refunded if the bottle is brought back to the collection points so that it can be recycled.
” The goal is to improve sorting,” says Laura Chatel, Project Manager at Zero Waste . The economic incentive would surely allow a better performance. But we are very far from the traditional idea of the order, the one of our grandparents with their bottles of milk or wine, “she says. At the time, the deposit was used to recover the packaging in good condition, wash it and refill it. It focused mainly on glass. On average, glass bottles could be reused between 20 and 50 times. A way to extend the life of the packaging and avoid overproduction of waste.
” Over the last forty years, this glass deposit has gradually disappeared in France, ” says Laura Chatel. Unlike Germany, where 42 % of all bottles put on the market are reused.
The device advocated by the government could have adverse effects, said Senator Guillaume Gontard. ” It would perpetuate the use of the single-use plastic bottle by ” greening ” its image. Since the plastic bottle is recycled, it creates the illusion that this packaging would be clean and durable. ” For him, ” the priority is to get out of the plastic consumption. Unfortunately nothing is proposed in this text to reduce the source of waste production or fight against overpackage, “he regrets.
” Recycling does not make it possible to use the material infinitely, adds Laura Chatel. Online losses are significant and the consumption of new resources with each cycle inevitable. ” Plastic containers are rarely recycled more than once and their recycling rate has stagnated at around 25 %.
This measure would therefore have a low ecological interest. Especially since focusing only on bottles, the device does not deal with other plastic waste that can not be solved today: yoghurt pots, trays and other packaging. Nicolas Garnier, general delegate in the association Amorce, which brings together local authorities, recalls some figures: ” We produce each year in France 1.1 million tons of household plastic waste, including 360,000 tons of bottles. 200,000 are already recycled. Or 56 %. The selective collection rate of the household bottle is the best among all plastic objects. The government focuses on the field that works best but does nothing on the rest – the 700,000 tons of orphan waste that is only recycled at 4 %. “
The door open to private industrialists ?
The government hopes to comply with European directives by 2020 to collect 90 % of household plastic bottles. He sees in the instructions the key element to achieve this. This device, however, would require substantial investment. According to Jacques Verdier’s expert report, commissioned by the Ministry of Ecology on this subject, numerous collection points should be developed: 110,000 checkpoints and 27,000 deconstruction machines throughout the country. For a total cost of around one billion euros.
The report is based on a study of the ” collective drink ” that brings together large private companies such as Coca-Cola, Nestle or Danone. ” The work of this group is the only impact study that was conducted on the deposit, says Senator Hervé Mauroy.
Beyond the green image that these large groups could get through the deposit, is also involving a financial battle. Today, beverage professionals pay the ” green dot “, a tax of 1 euro cent per bottle to finance recycling. The amount collected each year is around 160 million euros. If it emerges, the bill would replace this tax and could bring big pay to industrialists. If 10 % of buyers do not return their bottle, 240 million euros per year would not be reimbursed. What will happen to this money ? The beverage collective industrials want to take the lead of the eco-organization that will manage this money.
” This is a great way to turn a tax into a fee paid by the consumer,” said Guillaume Gontard, who points to another consequence deemed harmful. This instruction may penalize local authorities who already carry out the work of collection, grinding and recycling. We will put them in competition with the private industry and withdraw substantial cash flow. ” In the background, the commercialization of recycling looms. ” On the one hand, people can make money with Carrefour ; on the other hand, with the local authorities, they will be asked to make a free effort to sort the papers, cardboard boxes … We will degrade the image of the public recycling service for the benefit of these manufacturers. “
But doubt remains and the bill is likely to be amended in the Senate. Senators proposed various amendments.
Laura Chatel, of Zero Waste, hopes that the debate will be able to deepen, because ” it is not enough to declare a law for the return and the deposit. It is also necessary to remove the technical, economic and regulatory brakes that today make everything disposable ” . It advocates the financing of industrial washers that no longer exist and also demands that large beverage companies be required to manufacture a minimum of reusable packaging.
The set-up for reuse will also not work ” without standardization of bottles, boxes, jars and jars to limit the number of available formats and allow sharing of packaging between several brands, ” says Laura Chatel. A measure that multinational drink companies are not ready to accept since they have made packaging a marketing product …
French Article published on reporterre.net