• One in Saint-Maurice, in the Val-de-Marne, the other near Nîmes, Charlotte Gentric and David Cholez have one thing in common: that of having developed efficient waste collection networks.

  • Gourds of compotes, packaging for special breads, toothbrushes… Every year, since 2014, they have collected several hundred thousand pieces of waste that are difficult to recycle.

  • Direction TerraCycle near Lille which has made a specialty of this waste.

    The counterpart for Charlotte and David?

    Money.

    Or rather donations which they make benefit their associations.

    Since 2014, they have each exceeded 10,000 euros.

The mechanics have been well-oiled since the time Charlotte Gentric set it up in her town, in Saint-Maurice (Val de Marne).

A box is placed at the entrance to the annex of the library and surrounded by indications clearly specifying the nature of the waste that must be placed inside.

At the moment, these are compote gourds and packaging for bread or pastries.

The inhabitants fill it little by little, until Charlotte Gentric takes over.

"Once every two weeks," she says.

Another card is installed in the main library, another still in a primary school in the city center, raised at the same frequency.

And it is not rare, from now on, that the mother of the family is directly contacted by people who bring boxes filled with the wanted waste.

One million pieces of waste collected since 2014

All the boxes then go through Charlotte Gentric's box, in the basement of her residence.

She sorts the waste to eliminate errors and when her collections have reached sufficient weight - "30 kg for example for the gourds of compotes", she specifies -, she sends them via the postal company UPS, free of charge for she, in Troisvilles, in the Lille region, where TerraCycle, a company in the recycling sector, has its sorting center.

Since 2014, La Francilienne has collected more than a million pieces of waste for a total weight of 22 tonnes.

Compote gourds, bread and brioche packaging, but also toothbrushes, coffee capsules, pens and other supplies (highlighters, markers, correctors), cosmetic product packaging, tights... In short, all this plastic waste “technically recyclable, but which is not in conventional sorting channels, for lack of real markets behind it” explains Alyssa Cau, public relations officer at TerraCycle.

“They end up buried in landfill or burned, which in our view are the two worst treatment solutions,” adds Aurélien Dumont, in charge of member relations at Zero Waste, an NGO that promotes the Zero Waste approach.

Waste for donations

TerraCyclé, created in the United States in 2001, has made a specialty out of these little-considered plastics.

“We sort them again, before cleaning them and crushing them to make plastic pellets,” continues Alyssa Cau.

These are then sold to manufacturing companies which use them to make new products of all kinds.

Furniture, watering cans, bins, coverings for playgrounds or athletic fields.

In March 2021, TerraCycle said it had recycled 7.762 billion waste across the 21 countries where it operates.

All, initially, collected by individuals.

More than 202 million people around the world, claimed the company.

This is the cornerstone of the collection system set up by TerraCycle.

It launches recycling programs in partnership with companies that market this waste that is difficult to recycle.

About twenty are currently open in France.

Whoever wants to register there, as long as they are of legal age and there is still room.

It is then up to these volunteers to organize their collection system and set up their brigades.

The other point of view ?

Money.

Or, more specifically, donations.

Each recycled waste brings funds to the brigade which collected it which it can then redistribute to the association of its choice.

The rules change according to the programs.

A gourd of compote collected brings, for example, a point which will be exchangeable against 0.01 euro.

20,000 euros collected in eight years

It does little to say so.

All the same, last year, Charlotte Gentric collected 1,639 euros and “more than 10,000 euros in eight years”, she specifies.

The mother essentially benefits from it** “Dachshund without a sweet home”, an association of which she is a member and which collects abandoned dachshunds, takes care of them, places them in relay families until they find a new home.

If this sum is not the main income of the association, "it remains very significant, especially when donations from individuals tend to decline", continues Charlotte Gentric.

It is not David Cholez who will say the opposite.

From Marguerittes, on the outskirts of Nîmes, the Gardois is another very active volunteer in waste collection for TerraCycle.

To the point, he too, of having passed the milestone of one million pieces of waste collected since he started, in 2014 too.

“We should even be at 2 million by the end of the year,” he anticipates.

David Cholez also started by going around the surrounding schools to find waste, to the point of becoming “Mister collection” for schoolchildren.

“But, now that we are well identified, we are very regularly called by individuals who propose to collect waste in their surroundings and send it to us or pick it up,” he says.

This is how the Gardois now manages to collect between 300,000 and 400,000 pieces of waste per year now.

"This has allowed us to collect 4,000 euros per year in recent years and 20,000 euros in eight years," he says.

These donations benefit the association "Le marathon de la prématurité" which he chairs to help the parents of children born prematurely.

“We find them accommodation solutions or we finance their journeys between their home and the hospital, which is sometimes very far away,” he explains.

We also buy equipment such as nursing pillows or night lights.

»

Keep in mind that the best waste is the one you don't produce?

For David Cholez, these collections for TerraCycle make it possible to do a double blow, "by making it possible to raise, relatively easily now, up to a third of the association's budget, while doing a good gesture for the environment", launches- he.

On the last point, Aurélien Dumont, at Zéro Waste, qualifies all the same.

“There is a lack of transparency on the part of TeraCycle on what concretely becomes of the waste, he regrets.

How much is actually recycled?

And what does the company do for plastics for which there is currently no recycling solution?

“We only launch recycling programs for waste that we know upstream that we can recover,” we retort to TerraCycle.

And it is the partnerships that we forge with companies that allow us to remove the economic brake faced by the traditional sorting channels.

»

This is Aurélien Dumont's second downside: "These collections organized by TerraCycle should not be the pretext for companies that use this packaging, which is difficult to recycle, not to try to improve it or even, better still, to reduce it. “, he insists, recalling that this must be the priority today.

David Cholez and Charlotte Gentric say they are well aware of these limits.

But it is also the positive point of the eight years of collections that they now have behind them.

Over time, they have become great connoisseurs of recycling, identified as such in their cities to the point of regularly intervening in schools.

"And the first message is always to say that the best waste is the one we don't produce," says Charlotte Gentric.

Planet

Diapers, clothes, television… From January 1, the destruction of unsold non-food items will be prohibited

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  • Plastic

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