Putting in place a single colour scheme to guide households as they sort their waste is one of the simplest ways for a country to boost separate collection and recycling. This is one of the secrets behind the success of the best recycler in Europe. In fact, it is so simple to achieve, the EU should set one for the whole continent. And it wouldn't have to go very far to find the experts on the matter.
France is drafting its long-term plan for the circular economy and it includes a chapter on simplifying the collection of waste throughout the country. France launched a tech-savvy public consultation on the matter, asking "should we harmonise the colours of our bins or trash bags by 2025?". The first response was "why do we have to wait another 7 years for this to happen?".
France's record of separate collection and recycling of packaging is a bit patchy. France is great at recycling paper, for example, but not so great when it comes to recycling plastics. In 2015, France's recycling rates for each material stream were 92% and 25%, respectively. The systems in place vary a lot depending on the region and municipalities. And a big part of France's collection and recycling infrastructure dates from the 1970s. Significant new investments are needed to make better recycling a reality.
There is much to do to boost collection and recycling. Putting in place a single colour scheme for separate collection would be a great start!