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Do you need to clean out containers before recycling in France?

We take a look at whether you need to wash bottles, jars and yoghurt pots in France or whether they can be recycled directly

Does leaving food traces mean that items cannot be recycled? Pic: Oleksandr_U / Shutterstock

Reader question: Following recent changes to recycling, do you need to clean bottles and jars before putting them in for recycling? 

Simplified recycling guidelines were extended nationwide in January relating to what can be placed in yellow recycling bins. 

Essentially, these bins are for ‘packaging’ and all plastic and metallic packaging as well as paper and cardboard can go in them, even though not all of it will end up being recycled. 

Glass bottles and jars are not, however, included, and should usually be placed in dedicated containers, often coloured green. 

The new rules were meant to encourage recycling, but many people remain confused about what needs to be done before putting items in the recycling bins. 

Citeo, a body aiming to reduce the environmental impact of packaging, confirmed to us that it is indeed a common misconception that packaging cannot be recycled if it contains food traces. 

“You should not throw a pizza box in the ordinary rubbish bin because it is stained with chilli oil or tomato sauce, just as it is not necessary to rinse your yoghurt pot – this is not useful and it is therefore best to avoid wasting water,” the firm said. 

“The only thing to do before throwing packaging in the recycling bin is to empty it. 

If it is dirty, this does not disturb the recycling process.” 

The same applies to glass bottles and jars. To facilitate recycling, items should be put in bins loose and not in bin bags.

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