Waste producers must comply with new criteria and procedures for objects and products to benefit from end of waste status.

By Paul Davies

The French government has developed many measures to foster circular economy approaches. Most recently, a Ministerial Order of 11 December 2018 (Order) sets out criteria and procedures to end the waste status of certain objects and chemical products, to encourage their preparation for re-use.

The French Code of the Environment[i] defines “preparing for re-use” as “checking, cleaning or repairing recovery operations, by which products or components of products that have become waste are prepared so that they can be re-used without any other pre-processing.”

The Order requires that the objects and products meet specific criteria in order to benefit from the end of waste status. The criteria relate to:

  • The nature of the object or product
  • Techniques and treatment processes
  • Qualities and properties of objects and products resulting from such treatments
  • Contractual conditions subject to which such objects and products will be sold
  • Operator’s obligations in relation thereto (traceability)

The scope of the Order includes an exhaustive number of categories[ii] not containing asbestos, or persistent organic pollutants in concentrations exceeding levels laid down by regulation[iii]. These categories are:

  • Printing cartridges
  • Packaging waste (paper or cardboard, plastics, wood, glass, textiles, composites, packaging waste containing dangerous substances, residues, or contaminated by such residues)
  • Empty pressure containers
  • Tyres
  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
  • Gas in discarded containers and discarded chemicals
  • Textiles
  • Furniture

The Order sets out obligations relating to the administrative and technical controls that operators must implement to ensure prepared waste can be re-used in the same way that the object or product from which such waste originates was used.

The Order also requires that objects and products prepared for re-use be safely and separately stored at the site where they are generated.

From a qualitative perspective, such objects and products must be capable of direct use and must comply with the Consumer Protection Code obligations and other applicable regulations.

The Order narrowly outlines the conditions governing the marketing of prepared objects and products. An operator may either sell prepared objects and products by contract, or propose to sell them to consumers from its own distribution premises. Finally, an operator must:

  • Draft an affidavit certifying compliance with the above elements
  • Identify each object and product to secure traceability
  • Enforce a quality management system
  • Set up self-control procedures
  • Document the above and keep records for 5 years

Although the scheme applies to a broad range of objects and products and may therefore seem attractive and innovative, the administrative and technical conditions could discourage prepare for re-use initiatives on the part of operators.

[i] Article L.541-1-1 of the French Code of the Environment restates verbatim Article 3 (16) of Directive 2008/98/EC as amended

[ii] Order, Annex 1, Section 1

[iii] Regulation (EC) 850/2004 of 29 April 2004

This post was prepared with the assistance of David Desforges, Avocat à la Cour (Paris).