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In advance of COP 21, Paris confirms its commitment to the circular economy


From 30 November to 11 December 2015, Paris will host COP 21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. This will be an opportunity for the French capital to show that cities need not create climate and resource problems but, on the contrary, can be part of the solution in terms of promoting lifestyle changes and the development of the circular economy. Below is a recap of a series of initiatives that illustrate Paris’s commitment in this area.

Paris has already been making a name for itself for a number of years in terms of functional economy and cooperative use: Vélib’ and Autolib’ have been imitated around the world. The city is continuing its circular-economy initiative by setting a goal of reducing waste by 7% in 2015 and increasing its recovery efforts. In particular, in 2016, the city plans to provide all buildings with glass-recycling bins and also equip 150 municipal sites (cafeterias and markets) with facilities to sort and collect organic waste. This will start a virtuous circle: it is estimated that the total organic waste in the Paris Region could, after methanisation, furnish the equivalent of 2% of the French gas consumption. The city also plans to give Parisians incentives to compost outside their buildings. 300 sites are already taking part in this initiative.

The same goal of reducing the volume of unusable waste also applies in other areas such as clothing and shoes, of which only 1 kilo out of 16 discarded by Parisians annually is now reused or recycled. To increase this percentage, the city will provide 300 collection containers by the end of 2015. At the same time, it supports eight resource and recycling centres that collect items that would otherwise be thrown out (bicycle tires, reconditioned used office equipment, etc.), and puts them back in the consumer cycle.

Credits : City of Paris

Using the same logic, beginning next November, the municipality plans to extend a collaborative association, which is already in place in the 19th arrondissement, to all food markets in the capital. This association will redistribute consumable products to citizens in need, and thus prevent those products from become waste. This concept of circularity is also employed in the housing area. Social housing in Paris is now being equipped with “digital radiators” supplied with heat produced by computer servers. The plan is to generalise the use of this technology by 2020.

Finally, as COP 21 approaches, the municipality is multiplying its circular economy initiatives. On 11 March 2015, along with several other communities in the Paris Region, it launched the Etats Généraux [General States] of the Circular Economy. Its goal is to publish a White Book next September, which will list all recommendations to be implemented beginning in January 2016. A website dedicated to “Paris’ Urban Metabolism” has also been put online. In addition to extensive information on the flow of materials and waste, this site lists innovative circular economy projects.

These are the initiatives designed to make Paris an experimental and exemplary city in terms of new resource-respecting models.