France starts food waste programme to produce biogas

A group of 80 Parisian restaurants, caterers and hotels signed up for a pilot project, which is meant to turn food scraps into biogas and compost. This initiative comes ahead of a new law that will force thousands of French food outlets to recycle their organic waste.

France, which lags northern European countries in recycling, is driving efforts to turn organic waste into methane as it tries to reduce landfill, incineration and greenhouse gases. Since 2012, the country has imposed companies to recycle their organic waste if they produce more than 120 tonnes of it per year, but that threshold is gradually lowered to include not just supermarkets and agrifood firms, but also company canteens, hospitals and other collective kitchens.

Within this context, from this year, recycling is required for anyone producing 40 tonnes of waste per year and from 2016 this will go down to 10 tonnes (some 33 kilos a day), which will cover restaurants with some 150 servings a day. Accordingly, by 2016, the French environmental legislation will force up to one in five restaurants to recycle their organic waste or face fines of up to 75 000 euros.

The Paris pilot project – whose 450 000 euro cost is financed by French environmental agency Ademe and restaurant union Synhorcat – aims to collect 200 tons of waste in the next six months and expects that more of Paris’ 25 000 restaurants will join before regulation tightens.

Read more about the project on Reuters (in English).