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France – Law on fighting waste and the circular economy finally enacted

On 10 February 2020, the French law on fighting waste and the circular economy was enacted after months of discussions between the National Assembly and the Senate – the bill had been debated since July 2019.

The law contributes to the framework set out by the 2004 French Environmental Charter, and transposes some provisions of the EU Circular Economy Package of 30 May 2018 on circular economy and EU Directive 2019/904 of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment.

Besides setting broad national objectives for waste management and prevention, the law introduces wide ranging provisions, which aim to:

  • Give consumers enhanced information, for example through increased information on the environmental characteristics of goods, the implementation of a single logo for waste, of a harmonised colour code for sorting waste bins at the national level, and of a reparability index for electrical or electronic goods;
  • Fight wastefulness through incremental measures such as banning single-use plastic by 2040, prohibiting the destruction of non-food unsold goods and the systematic printing of paper receipts, or even introducing the possibility of unit sales for medicines;
  • Mobilise the industry in order to change production methods, notably through the broadening of the extended producer responsibility scheme to new products, and the creation of a bonus/penalty system that rewards producers who design their products to be environmentally friendly (and vice versa); and
  • Improve waste collection, management and disposal, for instance by promoting the increased use of recycled plastic, setting deposits for plastic bottles if they are not better collected, and introducing a variety of measures to fight illegal waste dumping.
  • Several implementing decrees, as well as orders to further transpose the aforementioned EU Directives, will be issued in the months to come.

This article was co-authored by Alexandra Lauré.