Green news - September 2018

An update on environmental events and occurrences in France

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No butts, cigarettes will be recycled

The latest cigarette butt clear-up business aiming to make a go of recycling fag ends is Mégo, based in Brest, Finistère.

The firm sells collection systems to local businesses and associations – including ashtrays, containers and posters – and then provides secondary services such as collection, recycling and statistical monitoring.

The goal is to implement a unifying approach to reducing partners’ carbon impact, raise awareness among their staff and also to communicate to the public their environmental commitment.

Once gathered, the cigarette butts are crushed to separate the ash, tobacco and paper residues from the filters. These are then washed in several water baths, then dried and ground again before being thermocompressed. The pollutants are disposed of as hazardous waste.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Strasbourg and some areas of Paris recently banned smoking in public parks.

Green machine swap is big success

90,000 people have taken up the government’s cash reward scheme to hand over a diesel car in favour of a cleaner machine.

Since January, owners get €1,000 (€2,000 for non-taxable households) for the disposal of diesel vehicles from before 2001 (and before 2006 for non-taxable households) and petrol vehicles from before 1997. They also get €2,500 for the purchase of an electric vehicle.

Nicolas Hulot, Minister of Ecological Transition, said government has set itself a target of 100,000 ‘conversions’ per year.

Chateaux charged over pesticides

Two chateaux near Blaye in the Bordeaux winemaking region will face court action over a 2014 crop-spraying incident which left local schoolchildren unwell.

Following a lengthy legal process, the investigating chamber of the Bordeaux Court of Appeal referred the Côtes de Bourg, Château Escalette and Château Castel La Rose appellations to the courts.Sepanso, a federation of environmental associations, won the judgment on appeal.

In May 2014, about twenty children and a teacher from a primary school in Villeneuve-de-Blaye had suffered from discomfort and complained of tingling eyes and a sore throat, following the spraying of fungicides on nearby vines.

The estates, one certified organic, had treated their plots that day with products which, though authorised, contained warnings about a risk of harm.

Cruise ship captain charged

In a judicial first in France, the captain of a 300-metre-long cruise ship will appear in Marseille’s criminal court after admitting breaching pollution guidelines.

The captain of the Azura, who is not French, could face a year in prison and €200,000 fine, but the ship’s owners, P&O Cruises, face no charges.

The fuel oil burned on his liner was checked on March 29 by port officials and found to exceed European sulphur limits set in 2015 for ships carrying passengers on the Mediterranean. The dirtier fuel type is used, say industry experts, to cut costs, and is not allowed in EU ports.

Shipping in Marseille is said to account for 10% of the city’s air pollution.

However, ship pollution standards will be significantly tightened from January 1 2020, for all types of ships, with sulphur content limits reduced yet further.