Law on Green Growth & Energy Transition Introduces the Circular Economy and Planned Obsolence

by Agathe Subileau 04 Nov. 2015

On 18 July 2015, Law 2015-992 on green growth and energy transition was published in France. The energy transition Law is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that introduces the concepts of circular economy and planned obsolescence for the first time at the European level.The Law on green growth and energy transition gives a fresh impulse to the French legal framework by codifying the recent concepts of circular economy and planned obsolescence. The Law also introduces a large number of provisions in the legislative part of various Codes to reform energy production and consumption, as well as waste management.

Circular economy is defined in the Environment Code as the prominence of waste re-use and recycling to limit waste generation. The introduction of this new concept aims at tackling waste production. Indeed, waste reduction targets are set, among which a diminution of the production of household and comparable waste of 10 % by 2020 (household and comparable waste production of 2010 is taken as a reference). 

Planned obsolescence is described in the French law as the techniques used by producers to intentionally reduce the durability of a product and increase its replacement rate. Consumers henceforth have to be provided information on manufactured products in order to avoid planned obsolescence. Enforcement measures have also been taken and producers are now likely to be sentenced up to two years imprisonment and a 30,000 EUR fine for using planned obsolescence. 

Another key measure of the Law is the ban of single use plastic bags and plastic cutlery schedule, respectively for 1 January 2017 and 1 January 2020.  Supermarkets will not be allowed to provide any kind of single use plastic bags and plastic cutlery will no longer be allowed to be placed on the French market. With this measure, France is taking the lead in the fight against plastic bags after the adoption of Directive (EU) 2015/720 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 amending Directive 94/62/EC as regards reducing the consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags.

Yet, the ambitious Law on green growth and energy transition preempts European actions regarding circular economy and is thus likely to be in conflict with future European developments that could arise from the current discussions on the circular economy package.

Is France too far ahead of time to follow the European path?