French municipalities challenged by waste trends

Increasing costs, approaching landfill restrictions a "major concern" for local authorities

Waste management is the leading environmental concern for French local authorities, ahead of wastewater treatment, according to a survey released last week by Paris-based consultancy BIPE Conseil. The survey reveals that a majority of municipalities fear increasing waste management costs and the effects of a 1992 law on waste.

Most of the 1,000 local authorities included in the survey expect waste management costs to rise strongly. They predict that prices will increase by 7% per year from the current average of FFr770 (Ecu116) per tonne, reaching FFr1,080 per tonne by 2002.

An overwhelming majority expects separate collection and recycling of municipal waste to increase from the current 4% to around 15% by 2002. Incineration is also forecast to increase, to about 45% of all municipal waste, while the proportion of waste going to landfill is expected to drop from the current 50%.

The survey also reveals growing municipal concern over the 1992 waste act, which is a major factor driving reduced landfilling and increased costs, presenting local authorities with technical and financial challenges.

Under the law, only "final" waste will be authorised to go to landfill from 2002. The onus is on local authorities to find alternative solutions but the heavy investment costs to build new incinerators equipped with energy recovery and pollution control facilities or to upgrade existing plant represent a serious burden for many of them.

The French agency for environment and energy management (Ademe) has estimated that the overall investment costs required to comply with the 1992 act will amount to more than FFr50m over the next five years.

In July, environment minister Dominique Voynet insisted that the 2002 deadline for restricting waste landfilling would be maintained, against growing doubts over its practicality. She stressed a need for a shift away from the increasingly preferred solution of incineration towards greater separate collection and recycling, partly to reduce the financial burden on local authorities.

Follow Up:
BIPE Conseil, tel: +33 1 46 94 45 22.

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