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Positive environmental news in France: June

In this month's round up of the positive environmental news making headlines in France, we talk waste, pesticide use, and solar panels on a supermarket.

Waste not, want not

A pioneering Lyon food bio-waste firm produced 30 tonnes of compost last year, a figure that they hope to triple. Les Alchimistes Lyon – which is the result of a merger between Les Détritivores, based in Villeurbanne since 2018, and Les Alchimistes, a Parisian start-up created in 2016 – recover food bio-waste from urban areas in order to transform it into compost.

They collect peelings and food leftovers from the catering industry (restaurants, school canteens, hospitals, company canteens or caterers) and then sell the resulting compost to farmers, gardeners and private individuals.

Since 1960, waste production has doubled in France. “More than 90 per cent is incinerated or sent away from cities when it could be collected locally,” said a spokesman from Les Alchimistes. The company has shifted its focus to work on organic waste, which they say comprises 30% of what is found in French dustbins.

Read more: test your soil by planting some pants in your French garden

Sunny side up at Nantes supermarket

A supermarket in Nantes will have its car park roof covered with 5,000 solar panels spread over 9,000m2 in order to supply the shop with its own power. The panels on the Leclerc supermarket at the Atlantis shopping centre in Saint-Herblain will produce 1,756 MWh every year, “the equivalent of the electrical consumption of 660 households (excluding heating)”, said Legendre Energie, the solar panel specialists in charge of construction.

Leclerc bosses hope to reduce the firm’s energy consumption by at least 30% by 2025 but the Nantes project has been stalled by the Coronavirus. It is hoped work will be under way by early summer. Nantes is in the vanguard of alternative energy planning – since its “Sunshine Plan” began in 2015, energy production from solar panels has increased fourfold.

Read more: new plastic-eating enzyme ‘revolutionises recycling’


Corsican rubbish sent to mainland

Rubbish from Corsica is being sent for incineration in Nice (Alpes-Maritimes), Vedène (Vaucluse) and Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône) because the Viggianello landfill site in the south of the Mediterranean island is at capacity.

The site is the subject of local protests against its expansion, meaning there is nowhere to store or burn waste. Corsica has endured a waste management crisis since November, with rubbish piling up in the streets.

Authorities in Nice said they could handle the additional waste because their own incinerator is treating “20% less household waste than usual”, due to the Coronavirus – allowing them “to absorb 6,790 additional tonnes” from Corsica.

Read more: regional trains cut prices for summer travel in France

Fined for lockdown pesticide use

Some farmers in Pas-de-Calais have been caught flouting rules governing pesticide use during the Coronavirus confinement. Following checks by the French Office for Biodiversity, a market gardener in the protected marshlands of Audomarois, near Saint-Omer, was fined for polluting the water by putting controversial Roundup weed killer in ditches.

According to local news France Bleu, the farmer involved has already been caught breaking pesticide rules several times, and has also been reported to the authorities by his fellow farmers.

Read more: rural French property prices to rise post-lockdown?

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