This will remain as one of the images of the movement against the pension reform: these mountains of garbage cans which have accumulated in Paris with up to 10,000 tonnes of waste not collected during the garbage collectors’ strike. But this strike may also have raised awareness of waste: we produce a lot of it and a lot of it is avoidable.
On the scale of France, 39 million tonnes of household waste are produced in France each year, with increasingly expensive treatments if we look at this on an individual scale. The figures for 2019 will give us an equivalent of 583 kilos of waste per inhabitant.
How to try to fight against this waste? According to a report by the Court of Auditors, management to reduce this waste is not up to scratch and that in reality, it is indeed 80% of this waste that could be directly avoided, in particular what is called organic waste, which could be recovered and reused. Then, the taxes on household waste are not enough: currently, the tax is calculated directly according to the rental value of the property and not according to the quantity of waste that is produced.
Prevention, the best solution?
According to the report of the Court of Auditors, only 1% in reality of the total cost of the public waste service is dedicated to prevention, that is to say absolutely nothing. We are content to make citizens aware of sorting actions a little bit, so this prevention affects a rather small population and the results are difficult to quantify.
In terms of raising awareness, some experiments work. An experiment, carried out as part of a research program, made it possible to have an augmented reality vision in one’s own living room, of the quantity of waste, using virtual reality glasses. At that moment, a shock occurs, with an awareness and therefore we reduce what we call the psychological distance. Finally, other experiments, especially in Paris, where traders have tried zero waste with the help of residents, rue de Paradis in Paris. These tests must in fact be generalized. But in the end, the best solution to reduce this waste is still to limit waste.