Do you know the AGEC law? It is a French law passed in 2020 that aims to fight against waste and promote a circular economy in France. “AGEC” stands for “Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy”. It aims to limit waste in order to preserve biodiversity and natural resources. But why is it being questioned today?
What is the AGEC law?
According to the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the objective of the Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy Law is to “transform the linear economy: produce, consume, throw away into a circular economy”. This law is in line with the Energy Transition Law for Green Growth (LTECV) adopted in 2015.
The AGEC law sets several ambitious objectives to reduce waste and promote the circular economy in France. In particular, it provides for:
- The end of single-use plastic by 2040
- A ban on the destruction of new non-food unsold goods
- A ban on landfilling recyclable waste from 2025
- A general deposit for plastic bottles and cans by 2023
- Extending extended producer responsibility (EPR) to new products (toys, electronic cigarettes, etc.)
- The establishment of a digital platform to facilitate the reuse and re-employment of products.
The latest measures to come into force in 2022 are :
- Plastic overpackaging of fresh fruit and vegetables weighing less than 1.5 kilograms is banned.
- Establishments receiving more than 300 people simultaneously are required to have at least one drinking water fountain accessible to the public.
- Press publications and advertisements are sent without plastic packaging.
- Tea and herbal tea bags made of non-biodegradable plastic are not allowed to be sold.
- Plastic toys, offered free of charge to children as part of menus, are prohibited.
- Sticking a label directly on fruit or vegetables is prohibited, unless the label is compostable and made up in whole or in part of bio-based materials.
- The state will no longer buy single-use plastics for use in its workplaces or at events it organizes.
Why has it been called into question lately?
“On 15 February 2023, the European Commission opened an infringement procedure against France by letter of formal notice (INFR(2022)4028). The Commission considers that the imposition of the Triman logo as well as the sorting instructions that are required for the labelling of products at national level undermines the free movement of goods within Europe.”
The logo was introduced in France in 2015 under the Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth (LTECV). This law was adopted in 2015 and was followed by the Anti-Waste for a Circular Economy (AGEC) law in 2020, which reinforced the provisions of the LTECV regarding recycling and the circular economy.
What is the Triman logo?
The Triman logo is an official symbol used in France to indicate that a product’s packaging is recyclable and should be sorted selectively for recycling. It was introduced in France in 2015 under the Law on Energy Transition for Green Growth (LTECV) and has been mandatory since 2016 on all recyclable packaging in France.
As a reminder, the obligation was created in Article 17 of the 3AGEC” law n° 2020-105 of 10 February 2020 on the fight against waste and the circular economy. This article inserted a new article L541-9-3 in the Environmental Code. Under the terms of this article “Any product placed on the market for households subject to I of Article L. 541-10, excluding household glass beverage containers, is subject to a sign informing the consumer that this product is subject to sorting rules.”
The aim of the Triman logo is to raise consumers’ awareness of the importance of selective sorting of packaging waste for recycling, and to encourage them to adopt more sustainable practices to preserve the environment. It also provides consumers with more information on products and makes it easier to identify them for effective sorting.
So why is this problematic?
According to the European Commission, it undermines the free movement of goods within Europe. At present, there are no rules on the provision of waste separation instructions to consumers in the European Union. The Triman logo regulation is only valid in France. This represents a constraint for trade in the internal market, as foreign companies importing into France would have to comply with the rule.
Furthermore, according to the European Commission, this measure may lead to additional labelling material requirements and consequently to more waste due to the larger size of the packaging.
In addition, France has failed to fulfill its obligations because the law on the Triman logo was not notified to the Commission in draft form before its adoption.
This infringement procedure does not suspend the Triman logo law for the moment. French producers are still bound by the same labelling and signage obligations. France has two months to respond to this infringement procedure.
What about the planet?
The infringement procedure that has been initiated by the European Commission calls into question some of the environmental issues at stake.
Indeed, the Triman logo law can be seen as beneficial as it raises consumer awareness of waste sorting and recycling, encouraging better waste management and potentially reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. By seeing the logo on the products they buy, consumers are encouraged to sort and recycle waste responsibly, thus helping to reduce the environmental impact of that waste.
In addition, by encouraging manufacturers and retailers to design products that are more environmentally friendly and easily recyclable, the Triman logo law can also encourage more sustainable and responsible production practices, which can have positive environmental impacts. For example, it can improve waste management by reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill and increasing the amount of recycled materials.
As you can see, the Triman logo represents progress for the environment and for the planet. But Europe does not see it that way and has decided to sanction the AGEC law for the Triman logo. According to the Commission, this regulation undermines the free movement of goods in Europe, because it forces other countries to adopt a law that does not belong to them. Furthermore, according to the European Commission, the Triman logo forces companies to provide larger packaging in order to be able to display the symbols. We will keep you informed of any progress on this issue!