Our EU law environmental and product regulatory teams have been following the passage of a significant new law through the French parliament: ‘the Anti-Waste and Circular Economy Bill’ (Projet de loi relatif à la lutte contre le gaspillage et à l’économie circulaire) (the Bill).
Key features of the Bill include:
- Radically expanded obligations for producers in relation to waste management
- Introduction of a ‘product lifetime score’ to be displayed on some products
- Harmonised waste collection rules
- New criminal sanctions for planned obsolescence tactics
Waste management. The Bill proposes to, among other matters:
- Extend the existing prohibition on discarding unsold food to all unsold products that are non-perishable (e.g. clothes and other consumer goods); this will apply to both physical and online sales.
- Introduce new obligations on e-commerce platforms to prevent and manage waste produced by their business activities (e.g. packaging waste from online sales).
- Redesign several important aspects (financial and structural) of the waste management obligations on businesses with mutualised take back and recycling obligations (EPR).
The Bill also sets the French objectives for plastic waste management: 100% recycled plastic by 1 January 2025, and total eradication of single-use plastics by 2040.
Product lifespan. The Bill proposes to extend existing obligations on professional vendors (producers and importers) to provide certain information to consumers about its products, including:
- information about use of renewable resources in the product,
- the durability of the product, (iii) the compostability of the product,
- possibilities for reuse,
- presence of hazardous substances and
- the degree to which the producer finances its waste management.
For electrical and electronic equipment, the Bill requires professional vendors to inform the consumer, in simple terms, about the reparability of the product. The ‘reparability index’ will be evaluated based on a scale established by the French environmental agency, on the basis of certain defined criteria.
The Bill extends the existing obligation on vendors to display the length of time spare parts will be available for the product, and in parallel, shortens the time in which the vendor must provide spare parts from two months to twenty days.
Waste collection. In response to wide public call for clearer domestic and business waste collection rules – which currently vary significantly between municipal areas – the Bill authorises the government to issue regulations aimed at harmonising waste collection practices (colours of bins, etc.). It also proposes to require large supermarkets and similar retailers (above 2500m2) to provide collection bins for the packaging waste of the products that are sold within the premises.
Planned obsolescence. The Bill also introduces new criminal sanctions for planned obsolescence tactics related to software updates.
The Bill, which was adopted by the Senate on 27 September 2019, is now being examined by the National Assembly. As it has been assigned to a fast tracking legislative procedure, it should be enacted into law by the end of the year.
If you would like further information on the Bill, please contact any of the authors listed.