Environmental groups take waste managing company to court for not complying with EU and national laws

Update: This article is a follow up to a previous podcast and article.

Two official complaints have been launched against plans for a 1 billion euro waste incinerator renovation in Paris.

In a new development in the French case, two complaints have been filed by Zero Waste France, Collectif 3R and citizens against the project to renovate a waste incinerator situated in Ivry-Paris XIII.

These complaints target the construction permit and the authorisation to operate delivered by Val-de-Marne Prefecture (Government).

Opponents have been asking for alternatives since 2009. After years of unsuccessful debates, they have decided to sue the company in charge of the renovation.

An outdated project that infringes on French & EU legislation

SYCTOM, the company carrying out the project, processes the domestic waste of almost 6 million inhabitants. In order do to so, they massively resort to incineration. The first steps to reconstruct the Ivry plant were defined by SYCTOM in the early 2000s. Since then the legislation has considerably evolved and environmental groups criticise the project as not aligned with the rules now in place.

  • The ‘Energy Transition for Green Growth’ Act in 2015, establishes new obligations and targets for local authorities such as: separately processing organic waste by 2025, redirecting 65% of waste to recycling or organic recovery by 2025…
  • The EU’s Circular Economy Package from 2018, confirms the direction of French legislation and assigns targets even closer and more specific such as: organic waste sorting by 2023, recycling of 65% of packaging, clear minimisation of food waste, etc.

Only 16% of domestic waste is recycled within the municipalities covered by SYCTOM. More than half of the waste currently burned by incineration plants is recyclable or compostable, and the number could rise up to 75% in the years to come. The projections put forward by SYCTOM to justify the reconstruction of the plant diverge significantly from the legislative obligations and targets mentioned above.

A project going against the will of citizens

In the past decade, citizens voiced their opposition to the project. Associations have participated in dozens of monitoring committees, debates, public meetings and surveys.

An alternative plan called “Plan B’OM” was developed to show that a different type of waste management is possible and desirable from an environmental, social and economic point of view.

Initiatives have been multiplying on the field, demonstrating that people are ready to reduce, reuse and recycle waste and that the plant wouldn’t be necessary over time.

This article is also available on Zero Waste France website.