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Measures relating to waste in the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law

Reinforcement of obligations

28/02/2020

Reinforcement of waste management obligations 

"Waste" should be understood to mean "any substance or any object, or more generally any movable good, which the holder disposes of or which he intends or is under the obligation to dispose of" (Article L. 541-1-1 of the Environmental Code).

It should also be noted that any retail establishment of more than 400 m² offering self-service food and mass consumer products is required to have selective sorting bins at the checkout to recover packaging waste from products purchased in this establishment (Article L. 541-10-18).

Combating littering 

The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law devotes the entirety of its section V, entitled "Combating littering", to a set of measures intended to reinforce the existing system to combat the illegal dumping of waste.

The purpose of these measures is to comply with European requirements and to meet the expectations of local authorities who considered themselves powerless to deal with this littering, viewed as a real issue locally.

Introduction of an immediate administrative fine (administrative penalty)

The powers available to the mayor (or the prefect in the event that the mayor fails to fulfil his obligations) to sanction the illegal abandonment of waste are specified in Article L. 541-3 of the Environmental Code. Thus, following an adversarial procedure,  and after formal notice, if the person responsible for the littering has not taken the necessary measures to remove the waste, the mayor can take binding measures (consignment, suspension, works carried out ex-officio, fine and daily penalty).

The Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law completes this legislation by giving the mayor the possibility, from the end of the preliminary adversarial stage, to impose on the person responsible for the littering payment of a fine of a maximum amount of 15,000 euros. This fine can be combined with a possible formal notice being pronounced. The mayor is thus endowed with a new coercive power enabling immediate deterrence.

Introduction of a fixed tortious fine (criminal penalty)

Under the terms of the current Article L. 541-46 of the Environmental Code "abandoning, depositing or having deposited of waste, under conditions contrary to the provisions of the [Environmental Code]" is punishable by two years' imprisonment and a 75,000 euro fine (375,000 euro for legal persons).

The implementation of this sanction supposes that an offence report is drawn up and transmitted to the public prosecutor, who then decides on whether there is sufficient basis to proceed with a prosecution. This procedure, which can be lengthy and burdensome, is rarely implemented by local authorities.

For the sake of efficiency, the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law complements this system by providing that the public action of the public prosecutor can be cancelled in the event of payment by the person responsible for the offence of a lump-sum fine of 1,500 euros within a period forty-five days from the date of the offence or from receipt of the notice of offence. This amount can be reduced (to 1,000 euros) or increased (up to 2,500 euros) depending on the period within which the person responsible pays the fine.

Other measures

In addition to the fines, the Anti-Wastage & Circular Economy Law also provides that:

  • when a vehicle has been used for littering, the mayor may, with the prior authorisation of the public prosecutor, immobilise and impound the vehicle (Article L. 541-46 of the amended Environmental Code);
  • the holder of the vehicle registration certificate - and not the driver - is liable for the fines relating to the abandonment of waste, thereby enabling fining when the offence is recorded by video surveillance (Article L. 121-2 of the amended Highway Code).

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