Recycling: a measure voted in the Assembly to make better use of “production residues”

The National Assembly voted on Thursday measures to facilitate the use of industrial “production residues” as raw materials for new products, as part of the first reading of the “green industry” bill.

These provisions were approved despite reservations from deputies, fearing that they would be misused by industrialists to ease their constraints linked to the treatment of hazardous waste.

The article, widely adopted (82 for, 1 against), provides in particular that “production residues” are not considered as waste within “industrial platforms”: they could be reused there without going through the procedures and obligations incumbent on waste producers, the aim being to facilitate their recycling in a logic of circular economy.

Measures are also planned to allow accelerated exit from waste status in the event of transfer from one company to another for recycling.

An employee holds in his hands medical plastic obtained from the recycling of dental equipment in a factory in Salon-de-Provence, in the south of France, on June 20, 2023 (AFP/Archives – Nicolas TUCAT)

The adopted article provides that production residues could be recycled “as long as they do not have an overall harmful impact on the environment or on human health”.

Faced with the concerns expressed, the Minister of Industry Roland Lescure assured in the hemicycle that “the same constraints” would apply to industrialists treating residues as those which apply to waste treatment. He supported amendments from the presidential camp reinforcing the declaration obligations and the supporting documents to be provided by manufacturers.

“Large waste treatment companies have written to me to worry that toxic waste is being burned in industrial boilers that do not meet standards: this is totally false,” insisted the minister. “If a waste, to be treated, must be heated to 850°C”, it will be treated in the same way on a platform that would like to reuse it.

Against the opinion of the government, the deputies adopted an amendment of several groups, and drafted in particular with Michelin, to allow French industrialists to use under certain conditions certain materials which would have come out of the status of waste from other EU countries.

A mechanism adopted in committee to prohibit the export of textile products containing plastic fibers when they become waste in the recipient countries has been abolished, the presidential camp considering it ineffective, even contrary to European rules.

However, the government has undertaken to present measures within a year to verify that these textiles will be reused and not treated as waste.

“It doesn’t mean much, it has no effectiveness,” criticized the socialist Dominique Potier.

Currently, excluding construction, 23 million tonnes of waste are produced by industry, of which only 47% is recycled or composted, indicated the Minister of Industry.

In the evening, the deputies validated an increase in the penalties incurred in the event of illegal management of industrial waste (to four years’ imprisonment and a fine of 150,000 euros, and eight years and 500,000 euros if the offense is committed in “organized band”).

Then the Assembly approved various measures to help transform wasteland into industrial land, in particular by simplifying the activation of various levers to bring into compliance installations “classified for the protection of the environment”, which present a risk of pollution or environmental nuisance.

Questioned by environmentalists, Minister Roland Lescure also announced that the means of the Regional Directorates for the Environment, Planning and Housing (Dreal), responsible in particular for controlling industrial sites, would be revised upwards in favor of the examination of the State budget in the fall.

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