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Waste Disposal

France - Waste Disposal

Waste disposal services in France are run by local authorities in each commune and there are different requirements and regulations regarding the disposal of different types of items.

If you are purchasing electronic equipment, from small items such as hairdryers to larger household appliances such as washing machines, the shop is now obliged to take the old item off you if you no longer want it. This is to prevent items from being taken to landfill sites. The shop is then responsible for the disposal of the item, but you can arrange for disposal yourself if you prefer. The local waste collection centre (dechetterie) will have the facilities for separating such items and recycling appropriately. Providing you live in the area it does not cost you anything to take rubbish to a dechetterie. When you first go there you will need to take with you proof that you live in the area, so a utility bill is essential and you will also need to have proof of ID and the registration documents for your car.

Recycling household waste is becoming increasingly popular and many towns have facilities for doing so. Each area will have collection points for recycling and the containers will be colour coded for different types of items such as bottles, plastic, paper and tins. If you have items such as mirrors and light bulbs you will find that there are special containers for them at the dechetterie.

Items that are considered to be bulky (encombrants) will have their own special collection points in the larger towns but smaller towns will have no such facilities and individuals will have to take these themselves to the dechetterie.

Some items are considered to be dangerous and there are special facilities for disposing of them. Batteries need to be taken to a collection point. Some shops will take used batteries off your hands or you can take them to the Mairie or dechetterie. If you have old tins of paint, vehicle oil or other chemical you need to take them to the dechetterie and use the special containers for them. Tyres cannot be taken to the dechetterie. You must take old tyres to the nearest garage as they are legally obliged to take them from you and dispose of them at no cost to yourself.

If you have ‘green’ or garden waste then you will find that the local dechetterie has a facility for taking this and recycling it. Often it is turned into compost and in some areas there is a collection service for this type of waste.

Clothes are items that are easily recycled and this is actively encouraged in France. Charity shops are happy to take clothes that are in good condition but textiles that are not can be taken to the dechetterie.

If you live in a rural area you will find that a refuse collection service will not come to your home, but some areas do offer this service. Those that do not will have collection points. However, it is a service that you pay for in the form of a tax. Most collection services are run by private companies under the direction of the local mairie and the charge for this is known as the ‘taxe d’enlevement des ordures menageres’ which is included in the tax bill given for the property taxes each year. In some areas this might not appear on your bill as some communes are able to cover the charges without the need to charge you extra. It is likely in the future that this tax will be calculated on the amount of waste being produced by each household. Homes that are exempt from the annual property tax will still need to pay for the waste disposal tax.

Many village homes will have septic tanks in France and if your home does then it is a good idea to ensure that the system is regularly inspected. Homes in cities will be connected to mains drainage. If you have a septic tank then you need to check how often it needs to be emptied. There are some which need to be done on an annual basis but others will not need to be emptied for several years and you should ensure that you use the correct cleaning products in the toilet as there are some which are specifically designed for a septic tank system. The cost of emptying a septic tank is the responsibility of the household but if you are connected to mains drainage then the cost is added to your property tax bill.

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