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Green news in France: October 2019

A monthly update on environmental events and occurrences in France: water bottles, autoroute littering, anti-pollution protests and rye straws innovation

Water bottle market filling up

Once the preserve of boy scouts and sportspeople, water bottles (gourdes) are becoming the drinking vessel of choice for French people as they look to make a personal gesture in the fight against single-use plastics.

Every second in France, 175 bottles of water are sold which, according to consumer statistics firm Planetoscope, this represents 5.5 billion bottles per year.

One company enjoying success in the re-usable bottle business is Gobilab, whose “personal eco-friendly bottle”, called Gobi, (pictured) shifts 1,800 units a week from its Seine-et-Marne factory.

The transparent bottle, equipped with a screw neck and a small handle, as well as photo frame for users to personalise it, is sold for €12 or €15, depending on the model (25 or 40 cl).

Next for the company is an equally ergonomic and sustainable glass bottle.


Fast food firms’ commitment 

Following government pressure, giants of fast food in France including McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza have signed an agreement to ensure 70% of their outlets will be operational for waste sorting in three years.

The 30,000 eateries serve some 6billion meals each year, and all must be functional by 31 December 2021 or risk action from the authorities.

The Secretary of State for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Brune Poirson, said the government would not hesitate in “increasing the penalties provided for in the event of non-compliance”.

Few companies in the sector comply with the current 2016 law, which dictates that fast food restaurants carry out sorting of paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metals.


Autoroute littering increases

One in three French people throw rubbish out of their car window onto the motorway, according to a new survey by autoroute management company Vinci.

Journalist Anthony Jolly, referring to the survey, told France 2 programme 13 heures: “Everyone chucks their plastic packaging, cans, and cigarette butts. All this represents 25 tonnes of waste every day, 25 tonnes that patrollers must recover.”

“40% of motorists admit to throwing away their rubbish so they don’t have to take it to a bin. 80% say they leave their garbage because the bins are full or too far away,” he added. He also said discarded bottles represent a risk to motorcylists.


Quarry protests over pollution fear

More than 130 people, including elected officials, marched in protest at the creation of a new 33-hectare quarry site in the Audun-le-Tiche, Moselle (Grand Est).

Their main concern is that regular dynamite explosions will weaken the galleries of old iron mines, which have historical access to water supplies. “We’re going to weaken the whole thing with the risk of toxic products infiltrating the water,” said protester Jean-Louis Martin.


Rye straws innovation to replace plastic

Single use plastic straws will be banned in France by January 1, 2021, and firms are pioneering alternatives.

A designer in the Orne, Normandy, has created a 100% natural straw made from organic rye, which is resistant to liquid.

The first rye harvest took place in August using a machine from the 1920s.

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