Refuse Collection and Recycling in France

Information on the management of household waste in France. What you can and can't throw in the dustbin and how and where to dispose of household waste, toxic products, electronic equipment and garden waste...

Management of household waste and recycling in France is under the responsibility of the local Communautés des Communes, Communautés des Agglomérations or the Town Hall Municipal Services (Services Municipaux). Apartment blocks and residencies should provide a room for the waste. It will often contain at least two types of bins – one for general household waste, and one for material to recycle: paper, cardboard, aluminium, metal and plastic. Waste is collected at least once per week in communes with more than 500 residents. In communes with fewer than 500 habitants the collection is not obligatory, but it is normally organised by the Town Hall (mairie). Collection dates and times are announced in an arrêté municipal. The hours when it is permissible to put waste bins outside on the road are also communicated in this announcement. Not respecting the times can result in a fine. Waste bins are often provided for free by the communes. When they are not, the mairie can require residents to buy bins of specific colours and dimensions.

General Household Waste

This bin is for everything which cannot be recycled in France, for example food and diapers.


Most towns have containers for recycling paper, plastic and cardboard packaging. It is all mixed together, in the bins with yellow lid, and the separation of the material is handled later. Glass is put in a separate container. Electronic equipment can be taken to a waste collection centre or tip (déchèterie). Shops are obliged to take back an old product from a customer who no longer wants it, if the customer is buying a replacement. This is also valid when buying online. Clothes can be put in special collection containers (enquire about locations at the town hall), or they can be left at the déchèterie.

Dangerous or Toxic Products

Some items are dangerous to the environment and must be disposed of differently: Paints, toxic products and waste oil from vehicles all need to be taken to the déchèterie. Tyres may not be disposed of at a waste collection site. They must be taken to a garage which is required by law to take them back free of charge. Batteries should be left at collection points often found in the entrance of supermarkets and electronic shops. All shops selling batteries are obliged by law to take back the old ones for free.
  • Find out more about this law (in French)
Medication should be handed in at the pharmacy, after recycling the paper packaging and instructions as paper.

Garden Waste

Garden waste such as leaves, branches, hedge cuttings and grass cuttings must be taken to the local déchèterie. In some communes there is a collection service for garden waste (déchets végétaux). Note: It is illegal to burn garden waste even on private property.

Disposing of large objects

Large objects (encombrants) such as furniture - and if a commune accepts them - washing machines, refrigerators and similar, are not disposed of by the weekly waste removal service. Contact the Town Hall for predetermined collection dates, or the number to call to make an appointment for collection, for these kinds of objects. In some areas, there is no collection and the only option is to bring the items to designated collection points. Information can be found at the local mairie.

Further Information