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Autumn leaves: Rules on what to do with garden waste in France

It is illegal to burn garden waste in France (except if you are granted special permission by the mairie). We explore what to do with autumn and green garden waste instead

A photo of a man raking up autumn leaves in a garden

There are certain rules in France about how to dispose of green garden waste Pic: Creative Family / Shutterstock

France has rules on what you can and cannot do with garden waste such as dead branches, autumn leaves, mown grass, and other waste you may have after tidying your garden this autumn.

The waste products are considered to be déchets verts (green waste) and they should not be thrown out with the rest of your usual rubbish. It is also illegal to burn them. 

Instead, you may consider:

Creating a compost heap

You can add green waste to a compost or mulch heap. Both leaf litter and grass clippings can be used for compost, to create an environmentally friendly way to feed your garden.

Mulching with any green waste can also be considered. Mulch can be placed on the soil of your plants to help absorb and retain water, which reduces the need for watering.

Throwing out your ‘déchets verts’ under certain conditions

Green waste can be disposed of at an appropriate waste disposal centre (déchetterie) during opening hours. 

A list of déchetterie that can be found within each department is available here.

Some areas also offer a green waste collection service. For example, in Toulouse, you can contact the office via the city’s municipal website, or on the phone line 05 61 222 222. Many areas have a similar service. 

You can call or email to make an appointment, and can have up to 10 100-litre bags of green waste picked up from your home each time.

Ask your mairie if they have a similar service available, although this may not always exist in small communes.

Do not burn them

It is illegal to burn green waste in France. This has been the case since 2011, and is due to the toxic substances that can be released into the air when burning, as well as the risk of causing disturbances and fire risks for neighbours.

However, in some cases, you may be able to obtain special permission from your mairie, if your area does not have a green waste collection system, or if you are working to combat plant diseases and invasive plants. Contact your local mairie for more information and to seek permission.

People who burn green waste without permission can be required to pay a €450 fine. 

More information on the green waste disposal laws, and how to report illegal waste fires can be found on the Service Public website here.

Related articles

What is the law on burning waste in my French garden?
Can I burn leaves and other waste in my garden in France?
What to do if your neighbours are burning garden waste 

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