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‘Free shops’ to be rolled out in France after successful trial

The zero-waste concept is said to be unique in France and run by a waste management union

They are designed like regular supermarkets with categorised aisle; the concept is ‘give, take and recycle’ Pic: Screenshot - smicval.fr

A new concept of an ‘inverted supermarket’, where people can drop off old items and take new ones away for free, is to be rolled out more widely.

The first ‘Smicval market’, named after the local union in charge of waste management, opened in Vayres (Gironde) in 2017. 

Smicval claims the market’s ‘give, take and recycle’ concept to be unique in France.

Seven smaller versions have opened nearby and there are plans to launch three larger ones along the same lines as the original location by 2026.

Read more: How to recycle in France: Seven common questions answered

Read more: Repair Cafés: a way to save broken items from the bin in France

Organised like a supermarket 

They are designed like regular supermarkets (just without food products), where items are organised into different aisles and an outside area for drivers to unload unwanted objects.

Smicval reports a fall of 1,000 tonnes of waste, with around 10,000 objects dropped off per year. 

Costs of the sites are financed by the waste tax collected by the union.

Odile Felloneau, PR manager at Smicval, said: “I think people have understood what is at stake with the planet.

“There is also a strong demand from people looking to use free objects.”

She cited users hoping to renovate a bathroom or offer toys to children. 

Similar concepts are in place in Corsica and Châteaubernard (Charente).

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