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  • Janet Whyte

To Recycle or not to Recycle that is the question!

Since 2018 the rules on recycling in France have been being simplified. The aim is for the sorting centre to decide what can be recycled rather than the consumer so all packaging should go in the recycling bin, even though not all of it will end up being recycled.

Since early 2020 the Lot has had a new recycling centre in Catus. Le Centre de Tri, (trier = to sort, think of the English word 'triage' used in the medical sense where patients are 'sorted' in order of severity of their case), has state of the art equipment which will treat 15,000 tons of paper & packaging a year. You can see this machinery in action, with English subtitles, in the YouTube video "".

There remains a lot of confusion about what can and cannot be re-cycled. Syded, the organisation responsible for recycling in the Lot, produce a biannual leaflet, Synergies, in January & July. It is full of useful information which some of you will read & understand, some of you (like me in the past!) might put it on one side to read tomorrow (and as we know tomorrow never comes!) and others might put it straight into (hopefully) the recycling bin because it appears too complicated or your level of French is not yet good enough.

As my contribution to this group I propose to write a précis of the contents of this publication each time it is issued. In the meantime, here are a few Do's & Don’ts that I have identified because I know that many people are still confused about what can and cannot be recycled.

It is a common misconception that packaging items cannot be recycled if it contains traces of food. This is no longer the case. You can recycle the pizza box even if it is stained with tomato or chilli sauce. Neither do you need to rinse your yoghurt pot nor even the smelly sardine can with traces of oil in it. Everything is cleaned during the recycling process - all you need to do is make sure it’s empty.

The same applies to glass bottles and jars although, of course, these need to go in a separate container.

Do put items into the bin loose, not in a bin bag.

Don’t stack items within each other or concertina your plastic bottle. The sorting is done by machine and changing the shape or weight of an item will confuse it. You can squash your bottle lengthwise to take less space and leave the tops on.

In summary, you can, and should, put all plastic & metal packaging, as well as cardboard & paper, into the bins even though not all of it will end being recycled. Items that cannot currently be recycled are being used for testing to find either alternative forms of packaging or a means of recycling them.

Useful terms: Trier - to sort; bac de tri - recycling bin; emballage - packaging; en vrac - loose; gaspillage - waste; gaspiller - to waste.

As a final note, if during our visit to the recycling centre I find out anything additional or different to what I have written here I will be sure to let you know.


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