Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Will the French (really) go green?

The environment has been an increasing political issue in France: not only was al Gore all over the media with his popular movie recently, but, Nicolas Hulot, a former presenter of a popular television nature program and now a leading green campaigner has gained popularity, thus forcing the agenda of the environment on the presidential candidates.

This may be why the French government now wants to show its potential electorate it is (finally!) doing something. So they announced that electrical equipment will now be taxed with an "ecoparticiation", and cannot be thrown out. Instead, it must be recycled - the cost of which will be covered by the ecoparticipation. (see Le Monde article here, in French)

This new “ecotax” will go from 1 cent (of a Euro), for cellular phones for instance to approximately 13 Euros (for fridges and washing machines which are more costly to recycle). To be fair, manufacturers are also put under pressure with new strict guidelines and rules on how to operate.

Consumers will have a choice to take their equipment either back to the shop where they bought it, to the town council, to a local recycling center or they can even donate them to certain organizations, who will take it away, repair it and sell it on to low-income households.

We’ll see if the French are coherent with their ideals – after all, 93 % of them said they were “concerned for the environment”, when at the same time, each French person throws out 14kg of electrical equipment per year.

Call me a cynic, but the fact that EU is demanding that each EU country should recycle 4kg of electrical equipment (per person) by December 31, 2006 may have a lot to do this sudden decision. It came too late for France to meet its target though.

NOTE: In the meantime, London is going to charge more the most polluting vehicles. Way to go Mr Livingstone! (BBC)

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