Are people being fined over France’s new obligatory food waste rules?

The new rules came into force on January 1

A €35 fine for mismanaging waste is already included in the penal code, but this will not apply to food waste for the foreseeable future
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Reader question: can I be fined for not sorting my food waste under the new rules?

Households in France are expected to have a separate bin at home for kitchen waste, such as peelings, coffee grounds, meal leftovers and green garden waste from January 1.

The new rules are part of an anti-waste law, la loi AGEC (anti-gaspillage pour une économie circulaire) that is intended to bring France in line with European law, which says that by 2025 biowaste should not be disposed of in ordinary tips or incinerators.

Despite the new rules coming into force from January 1, few local authorities are ready.

Read more: Are you (and your council) ready for obligatory compost law in France?

However, the Agency for Ecological Transition, Ademe, which is behind the law, stresses that no fines are planned.

‘The rules are for local authorities, not households’

“The AGEC law says that it is the local authorities that must provide a solution to sort people’s biowaste,” Muriel Bruschet from Ademe told 20 Minutes, “The law does not directly impact households.”

This process is likely to take months or even years, with only 40% of the population estimated likely to have a solution in place by the end of 2024, according to the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

“It is not the job of citizens to go and buy their own compost bin or food waste bucket,” recycling awareness organisation Zero Waste told 20 Minutes. “That is the role of the local authority, which has to offer people a solution.”

Will there be a fine in future?

A €35 fine for mismanaging waste is already included in the penal code, however it predates the AGEC law and was intended to apply to people who misuse the yellow recycling bins.

Known as Article R632-1, it states:

“Putting waste, materials or any other object in waste containers, bins or skips without respecting the conditions set by the relevant administrative authority…can be punished by the applicable fine for infractions of the 2nd degree [ie. a €35 fine rising to €75 if unpaid].”

To apply this fine would mean closely monitoring people’s bins, which is highly impractical.

While fines are not on the horizon per se, bin collection has become increasingly expensive in most of France.

Some areas have even seen the introduction of a price per bag of bin waste.

A reduction in the mass of waste put in the general waste bins should help counter such costs which are levied by each commune along with the taxe foncière as the taxe sur les ordures ménagères.

Conversely, if people do not join in the waste sorting effort, they may continue to see the price of bin collection rise.

Read more:

Is everyone in France affected by new obligatory home waste rules?

Seven questions about new obligatory composting law in France