- Paris is rolling out the first phase of a curbside organics collection program in two districts this month, with the goal of expanding the program citywide by 2020, as reported by Resource.
- More than 74,000 households will have access to participate, with aerated food bins and compostable bags provided by the city. Local officials hope to collect 3,500 tons of material per year to start, as reported by The Connexion.
- Novamont France, a manufacturer of compostable bags, is a main player in the pilot as they have been in other European cities. According to the company, the use of their bags will allow for organics to be composted or digested and the bag material aligns with local standards.
According to one city estimate, the average Parisian generates around 1,100 pounds of waste per year. About 20% of that is currently diverted for recycling. It's estimated that organic material accounts for about 20-25% of this waste, so officials see an opportunity to capture more of that while encouraging overall diversion behavior in the process. Refuse in Paris is currently processed at multiple waste-to-energy plants, which also provide heat to the city.
In their announcement, city officials highlighted the circular economy potential of this pilot and its role in achieving larger COP21 environmental goals set in 2015. The European Parliament is also in the midst of working through a new circular economy package that could set targets of 70% diversion and 50% food waste diversion by 2030. Other recent policies in Paris, such as expanded access to public recycling bins (which include textiles) and a nationwide ban on plastic cutlery by 2020 could also help make progress toward those goals.
While more cities in the U.S. are now offering or considering curbside organics collection, the practice is still not widespread. Cities such as San Francisco have chosen to raise their rates to reflect the costs, while many others have yet to take that same approach and some companies are skeptical of the required investments to offer the service. In areas with low landfill tip fees the economic case can be harder to make. Though as with any aspect of materials management, organics processing costs can be brought down when the infrastructure is built locally.