Waste reduction and advanced recycling of materials are key areas of EU policy. At the beginning of 2012, the greater Besançon became the first conurbation of over 100 000 inhabitants to switch to a pay-as-you-throw scheme to finance waste treatment and encourage the reduction of residual household waste. However, 80% of the population of Besançon live in collective housing, where the cost of waste management is not directly charged to individual households. These culturally diverse areas, moreover, have a high rate of turnover of residents, making traditional communication tools ineffective. Production of residual waste is thus highest in these households, but the opportunity for improvement is also high. Rural areas also face challenges, especially those associated with the increase in the streams of waste to be processed by the household waste recycling centres. One the two incinerators of the beneficiary, SYBERT, is facing obsolescence.
The aim of the Waste on a Diet project was to implement a pay-as-you-throw scheme in collective housings and rural areas, resulting in an expected reduction of the total volumes of waste and the adoption of good waste management practices, such as sorting, recycling and collective composting. It foresaw the installation of collective composting facilities, the upgrade of the 18 waste disposal sites of the greater Besançon and the construction of a bulk waste dismantling platform.
The project also aimed to study the then current waste management practices in collective housings. A team of six facilitators would carry out awareness-raising campaigns and promote good practices among the local population, as well as public bodies, such as the city council and landlord associations. It would also organise workshops, targeting the population living in collective housings and focusing on shopping, cooking, clothing, second-hand markets, household furniture and equipment.
The Waste on a Diet project implemented a pay-as-you-throw scheme in collective housings and rural areas, which resulted in the adoption of good waste management practices. It provided all 18 sites managed by SYBERT with the necessary equipment to control access and to carry out the new recycling solutions. These are being applied to an increasing number of waste streams and thus reducing landfill volumes. The project also constructed a bulk waste dismantling platform, which when fully operational reduces landfill waste by more than 50%. Numerous indicators have been defined and are being analysed on a quarterly basis. The project directly created 30 full-time jobs associated which 10 directly related with the opening of this platform. Through five specific actions the Waste on a Diet project contributed to significantly reducing the volumes of landfilled waste, as well as increasing recycling, reuse and energy recovery. It achieved the following environmental results: eresidual household waste was decreased more than 30% from 217 kg/household/year in 2009 to 145 kg/household/year in 2017 (significantly lower than the French average in 2011 of 288 kg/household/year); and re-use and recycling increased from 39% in 2009 to 58% in 2017 above the 2011 French average of 37%. By implementing a pay-as-you-throw scheme and developing a local waste treatment processes, the project has contributed to the Waste Framework Directive as well as towards transitioning towards a circular economy. Actions in Besançon achieved a recovery rate of around 97% in 2017 exceeding the EU’s objective of 70% by 2030 and higher than the EU current average of 40%. To further support waste management in collective housing, a follow-up communications project was submitted. Awareness-raising campaigns were central to the project, and these have led to a reduction in the amount of residual waste produced and thus a reduction of waste treatment costs. The campaigns, along with the introduction of access control systems at waste disposal sites and local composting, also resulted in fewer sorting errors and thus lower management costs. By keeping waste management costsat 72€ per household per year, below €90 per household per year, lower than the French average of €120, it was possible to effect a smooth transition to the pay-as-you-throw scheme. By promoting simple local waste treatment, moreover, infrastructure costs could also be decreased. Moreover, developing local treatment processes prevents waste being transported to remote locations and the associated carbon footprint. Reduced journey times for dump tracks result in CO2 savings of 41%. Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).