Green news: April

Eco news from around France

Fag-free streets not a drag in Bordeaux

Authorities in Bordeaux have launched a pilot operation aimed at combating the blight of 200million cigarette butts, which it says are dropped each year on the city’s streets – the equivalent to 35 tonnes.

In association with the group EcoMégot (a cigarette end is called a mégot) – it will install fifty ashtrays in busy sections of the Bastide district, including tram stops.

The trial will be accompanied by a campaign to raise public awareness among Bordeaux visitors and residents, entitled “Objective: France’s first cigarette butt-free area”.

The cigarette butts will be collected and recycled into plastic, and if the scheme is successful it will be expanded city-wide.

Green electricity percentage down

The share of electricity produced by renewable energies, such as photovoltaic panels, wind turbines and dams, fell in France in 2017 because of low rainfall.

According to a report published the Syndicat des Energies Renouvelables (SER), renewable energies supplied 18.4% of the electricity consumed in France last year, a figure lower than in previous years (19.6% in 2016,18.7% in 2015 and 19.5% in 2014,) because of an 18% drop in hydroelectricity production – the main contributor to renewable electricity.

This was due to a “very bad year in terms of rainfall”, said Jean-Louis Bal, Chairman of SER.

There was, however, better news for wind generated energy, which had its best ever year. Renewable electricity generation plant ‘connections’ to the national grid experienced a record increase in 2017 with an additional 2,763 MW – driven mainly by wind power (which accounted for 65% of connections).

France has set itself the goal of increasing the share of renewable energies consumed to 23% of gross energy consumption by 2020, and to 32% in 2030.

Buying ‘loose’ is a weightier issue

The boom in buying food produce ‘en vrac’ – in bulk or weighed ‘loose’ at grocery shops – continues in France as consumers eschew packaging in the name of the environment and saving money.

Since 2014, according to France Info, the number of en vrac retailers in France has increased from 10 to 150, although this kind of consumption still only accounts for 1.5% of the national spend.

While the market is still the place for fresh produce, it is to en vrac outlets that people are turning for store cupboard items such as rice, pasta, lentils, dried fruit, breakfast cereals and semi-fresh fruit such as prunes or soft apricots, as well as oils, vinegars, dishwashing liquid, detergent and multi-purpose cleaner.

Gridlock reduction in the capital

Traffic control policies in Paris, such as banning polluting cars, have ‘borne fruit’, said the city’s Parti Socialiste mayor. The French capital experienced a “record decline” in automobile traffic in 2017 (-4.8%), according to Anne Hidalgo. This decrease continued into 2018 with a year-on-year January reduction of 4.5%.

“Now traffic is becoming more fluid. And those who really need to take their cars, such as taxis and artisans, can get around better. Everyone agrees,” she told Le Journal du Dimanche. Everyone, that is, except opposition politicians, who said they doubted the veracity of the figures.