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Zero waste and circular economy: deciphering electoral proposals

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The circular economy, a major absence from the presidential election manifesto? Not exactly. National zero waste plan, fight against programmed obsolescence, increase of the general tax on polluting activities... Most of the programs of the presidential candidates allude closely or remotely to the problem of waste. The zero waste ambition has made its way, and above all, the potential for job creation associated with the transition to a circular economy cannot be ignored by the candidates. Their proposals, however, vary widely in their ambitions.
With 15 days to go before the first round of voting, Zero Waste France has immersed itself in the candidates' programmes and offers a complete deciphering that UP' has chosen to relay here.

Timid incursion via the fight against programmed obsolescence, for M. Le Pen and N. Dupont-Aignan

Although the Front National candidate, Marine Le Pen, puts forward a "patriotic ecology", the issue of waste is not directly mentioned in her programme. However, the circular economy is addressed by the Collectif Nouvelle Écologie (a working group of the FN and the Bleu Marine rally) in its "21 Proposals for a Patriot Ecology of the 21st Century."and in particular the fight against obsolescence programmed to give back purchasing power to the French. It includes, for example, the proposal for the mandatory display of the lifespan of household appliances (the Energy Transition Act currently provides for experiments in this area) and a law making spare parts affordable.
 
Planned obsolescence is also the main reference to the circular economy in the Nicolas Dupont-Aignan's program. The candidate of Debout la France is considering more controls, or even the banning of the product in cases of proven programmed obsolescence. Reuse and recycling are also on the agenda, when the candidate talks about making local authorities "the armed wing of local ecology": the recycleries could thus benefit from financing from a new common share in the Global Financing Endowment (DGF) allocated to local authorities, and conditional on the completion of certain investments in terms of ecology.
But the candidate also combines circular economy and energy recovery. He therefore proposes to build methanisers scattered throughout the campaign and to increase the performance of incinerators by recovering more of the metals present in the ash and unburnt residues (called bottom ash).
In the same vein, it envisages the creation of a network of cement plants fuelled by solid recovered fuels (SRF), i.e. waste selected and prepared for this purpose. This is a far cry from the circular economy or zero waste, which still favours reuse and recycling over waste combustion. 

François Fillon plans to play on taxation to reduce landfill dumping 

None of François Fillon's fifteen flagship measures is about ecology. We looked hard and found his environmental due diligence document published at the time of the primaries mentioning the need to "make waste a resource" and to promote the principles of the circular economy.
For example, the Republican candidate wants to extend the obligation for manufacturers to recover their end-of-life products and allow individuals to resell their obsolete electronic equipment to specialized organizations. These measures would be supported by the use of fiscal tools, including a reduced VAT rate for products made up of more than 50 % of recycled materials and, above all, an increase in the general tax on polluting activities (TGAP) applicable to landfill.
However, nothing is said about a possible upward trajectory of TGAP for incineration. However, the examples of certain European countries such as Denmark show that landfill taxation alone is not enough to foster real advances in the circular economy. On the contrary, it must be integrated into broader policies combining the limitation of incineration capacity, ecological taxation and the obligation of means, in particular through incentive pricing and separate collection of bio-waste.

The circular economy to support job creation at Emmanuel Macron 

For the candidate from En Marche!, who wants to make the circular economy and recycling a "new business model", it is above all a question of mobilising a pool of jobs and relying on eco-design. Thus, the circular economy is of interest from a cost point of view (by controlling the cost of inputs, better recovery of waste and promotion of eco-design), as well as other factors of competitiveness (materials, processes and innovative design methods).
Emmanuel Macron also wants to increase TGAP rates, both on incineration and landfill, in order to reach a target of "100 % of recycled plastic all over the country" and to halve the amount of waste going to landfills by 2025, a target already set by the Energy Transition Law (LTE).
To encourage sorting, the applicant also proposes that manufacturers should include simple sorting instructions on packaging, without detailing at this stage the information or logos that could be the subject of such an obligation for manufacturers.
 
The En Marche! candidate is also banking on the development of eco-design to reduce waste and improve recycling. It supports the display of product lifespan and also wishes to extend the bonus-malus system on eco-contributions paid by manufacturers, in order to promote the most sustainable products and penalise those that would be harmful to the environment. This system of eco-modulations is currently under-used in France and does not allow manufacturers to direct their choices towards models that produce less waste.
 
On the subject of bio-waste, Emmanuel Macron proposes to launch new initiatives against food waste, in particular by working with the professional federations concerned.
 
Finally, the candidate considers that the State should also encourage existing initiatives and promote new techniques, through support for industrial solutions in the field of recycling and waste treatment. Among the companies that theThe State should support, for example by entering into the capital of some of their projects, Suez and Veolia are in a good position.

Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon explore zero waste

On the left side of the political spectrum, the programmes explicitly evoke zero waste: National Zero Waste Plan for Benoît Hamon, Zero Waste Act "for Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The circular economy is also concerned by the proposal of the candidate of France Insubmissive to constitutionalize a "circular economy". green rule"This would require that no more be taken from nature than it can replenish, and that no more be produced than it can sustain. An a priori attractive principle, such as the Greenpeace notes, but whose implementation raises many questions.
 
The two candidates share a common vision on the fight against waste and programmed obsolescence. The agreement between the SP and Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV) provides for modulation of VAT according to the lifetime of products and their potential for reuse and repair, in order to encourage re-use and eco-design. For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, it is above all the extension of the legal guarantee that will make it possible to combat the planned obsolescence of products.
 
Applicants' proposals differ on the development of treatment facilities: Benoît Hamon promises the exit of incineration, a measure resulting from the agreement with EELV. No exit from incineration for the candidate from France Insubmissive, but only an obligation of energy recovery for all the installations. The waste booklet published in the margin of the programme book However, the report also calls into question projects for facilities that are currently under debate, such as the Ivry-Paris XIII incinerator or the StocaMine underground storage facility for hazardous waste in Wittelsheim, by "relying on citizen involvement and stakeholder cooperation".
 
To achieve its objectives of reducing waste and increasing sorting, Jean-Luc Mélenchon is counting on better communication, quantified prevention objectives within the extended producer responsibility channels and the obligation to sort for all waste producers.
Bio-waste and recycling: two areas of focus to reduce the volume of waste bins
Reducing the number of bins also involves the recovery of organic waste, a measure already present in the LTE, which aims to generalise the sorting of organic waste at source for all producers by 2025. For Jean-Luc Mélenchon, it is above all local composting (individual or neighbourhood) that is put forward as the preferred solution. For Benoît Hamon, waste reduction will not be achieved without a greater effort on the part of metropolises, on which he will impose an obligation to recycle at least 50 % of their waste by 2022. A sensible initiative, since metropolises generate large quantities of waste and are lagging behind in their recycling performance, but it should be noted that this threshold is nevertheless less ambitious than the targets set by the LTE (55 % in 2020 and 65 % in 2025) and more recently by the European Parliament as part of the Circular Economy Package (70% of waste recycled by 2030 and 80% for packaging). Moreover, the constitutionality of such a measure is questionable, as setting a threshold specific to metropolises seems a priori to contravene the principle of equality between local authorities.
Moving away from the "disposable" and promoting eco-design
The candidate of France Insoumise advocates the end of the "all disposable" to make the transition to a true circular economy. This will be achieved first and foremost by supporting eco-design, which Benoît Hamon also proposes to encourage fiscally. According to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, industrial innovations should be supported by the development of university training in this field, the allocation of research and development funds - particularly on the issue of repairability - and support for repairers and structures such as resource centres. The "Waste" booklet also insists on the need to develop the economy of use rather than possession at all costs, through rental, loan and mutualisation schemes. Finally, Jean-Luc Mélenchon proposes an outright ban on non-recyclable packaging - this prohibition lever already exists in fact, but is rarely if ever activated - and the reintroduction of deposits, particularly for beverage packaging, from local shops to supermarkets. A proven initiative at the local level in some jurisdictions, and that someOther European countries are also trying to generalise.
 
Zero Waste France has endeavoured to present the proposals in a clear and precise manner, putting them into perspective in relation to existing law or the pitfalls to be avoided for zero waste. As for the six other candidates in the presidential election, the issue of waste and the circular economy is not addressed in their programmes.
 
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READ ALSO IN UP' : My Life Zero Waste

(Source : Zero Waste France - March 30, 2017)
 
 

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