Glossaire des déchets et des métiers de la valorisation et du traitement

Les termes relevant spécifiquement du domaine nucléaire sont en italique


French Environment and Energy Management Agency. A public agency, of an industrial and commercial nature, placed under the joint authority of the Ministries in charge of research, the environment and energy.

Radioactive activity

Quantity of radioactivity, measured in Becquerel (Bq).




French Radioactive Management Agency. The ANDRA is the creator and operator of all radioactive waste storage facilities in France. Such monopoly is statutory for intermediate- and high-level waste. Regarding very low-level waste, the ANDRA also operates in a monopoly situation: the Law authorises private operators to settle storage facilities, yet none have done so until now.  




French Nuclear Safety Authority


Collective industrial center for the biotreatment of polluted soils.


Gas produced during the degradation in anaerobic environment (absence of oxygen) of the fermentable fraction contained in non-hazardous waste. Biogas is mainly composed of carbon dioxide and methane, and because of the latter it has a certain calorific value.


Biodiversity, or biological diversity, represents the diversity of living beings and ecosystems. It covers all life forms on Earth, as well as the relations and interactions between them and their environment since the origin of life. The biodiversity concept encompasses inseparably the fauna, flora, bacteries,... This explains its complexity and richness. 


Becquerel (symbol: Bq)

Unit of radioactivity, corresponding to one disintegration per second. Radioactivity is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by emitting radiation spontaneously (process known as desintegration). Hence, it makes sense to measure radioactivity through the number of desintegrations per unit of time. 




All biodegradable green waste from parks and gardens, all non hazardous food waste from households, restaurants, catering companies or retail stores, as well as all similar waste coming from the food production or processing industries. 



Fly ash

Residue from incinerator plants including boiler fines, residue from dust removal and from exhaust gas neutralisation (except for wet processes). These residues must be treated or stabilised before being transfered to a storage centre.

Sorting centre

Industrial facility specialised in macroscopic sorting of materials produced by households (selective sorting) and companies/industries for the purpose of recovery. The sorting centre which does not rely on any chemical, nor thermal process, enables to sort different materials, remove impurities, and repackage materials before sending recoverable fractions to the recycling chains. The materials are then reused to replace virgin raw materials, thus contributing to saving natural resources. Impurities and undesirable materials constitute refusals or non-recyclable waste (see below). 




Class 1, Class 2

See FWSC - Final Waste Storage Centre


Waste collection is a part of the process of waste management. It is the transfer of solid waste from the point of use and disposal to the point of treatment or landfill. Waste collection also includes the curbside collection of recyclable materials that technically are not waste, as part of a municipal landfill diversion program.


This term refers to the products resulting from the decomposition of solid waste in the presence of air (composting). Compost quality depends on the nature of waste: fermentable fractions from household waste, green waste, sludge from wastewater treatment units. The resulting organic fertilizer is solid, stable and rich in humus. Extensive standardization work has also been conducted to monitor the safety and effectiveness of composts used in agriculture. Standards NF U 44-095 on sludge composts and NF U 44-051 on organic amendments have been made mandatory by the orders of 18 March 2004 and 21 August 2007.


Composting is the biological treatment of fermentable waste (household waste, green waste, sludge from urban wastewater treatment units) under aerobic conditions in order to obtain compost.  


A Storage Center is a well-designed, secure space intended to receive so-called ultimate waste (i.e not recyclable or recoverable), in order to ensure perfect environmental and sanitary control. The Storage Center enables to collect all effluents produced by wastes (liquid effluents or biogas for fermentable waste). The activity is supervised by prefectural decrees and subject to permanent control by State services (DREAL). There are several types of Storage Centers, depending on the hazardous nature of waste: - "Class 1" facilities accommodating hazardous industrial waste, - "Class 2" facilities accommodating household and similar waste, - "Class 3" facilities accommodating inert waste, rubble and excavated materials.


Solid Recovered Fuels (SRF) are made of non-hazardous waste (household waste, non-recyclable non-hazardous industrial waste). They can be used by large industries to replace fossile fuels. SRF production is thus a solution for treating specific waste, while being a new energy source. 



Classification of radioactive waste

Classification of radioactive waste. Radioactive waste are classified according to their activity and radioactive period. In France, categories of waste have been defined according to different modes of storage:

  • LLW: Low-Level Waste, stored in an ISDD (CIRES) 
  • LLW/ILW-SL: Low- and Intermediate-Level Waste, Short Live, stored for a duration of 300 years (CSM and CSA) 
  • LLW-LL: Low-Level Waste, Long Live, stored at low or medium depth (storage site under study) 
  • ILW-LL: Intermediate-Level Waste, Long Live, stored deep down (CIGEO)
  • HLW: High-Level Waste, stored deep down (CIGEO). HLW are defined according to the thermal power they produce due to their radioactivity. They are waste streams created by nuclear reprocessing, and waste formed by vitrification of liquid high-level waste. Within a storage facility like CIGEO, ILW and HLW undergo very different forms of treatment. 
Carbon cycle

The carbon cycle is a biogeochemical cycle which results from complex exchanges between the atmosphere, the oceans and living and mineral materials. 

The "short-term" cycle of biomass 

Biomass, as it grows, absorbs carbon through photosynthesis. Its natural degradation, by decay, liberates CO2 et CH4, that is carbon which was previously stored: this is the short cycle of carbon, also know as biogenic cycle. Within this natural cycle of equilibrium, the greenhouse effect of "biogenic CO2" est considered virtually nil. 

Consequently, carbon from biomass (biodegradable materials, cardboard, organic household waste) which is liberated during waste treatment has no or little impact on the greenhouse effect. Nonetheless, CH4, whose global warming power is much more important, and which derives from human activities, such as the anaerobic waste storage, must be taken into account. 

The "very long-term" cycle of fossil carbon 

Carbon stored into fossil materials is captured in "geological reservoirs" during cycle of several millions years, with almost no contact with the atmosphere. Fossil fuels or materials combustion unbalances the "natural" cycle of carbon by releasing massive quantities of CO2 and CH4 into the atmosphere. This is equivalent to the natural liberation of carbon during a period of 100 years. 


Fossil carbon contributes to increasing CO2 into the atmosphere and has an impact on climate change. Biogenic carbon must be quantified separately since it has an impact on climate change. Regarding waste management activities, biogenic carbon comes from the fermentable fractions of waste. 


IMW - Infectious Medical Waste

Infectious Medical Waste is a subset of waste generated at health care facilities, such as hospitals, physicians' offices, dental practices, blood banks, and veterinary hospitals/clinics, as well as medical research facilities and laboratories. Generally, medical waste is healthcare waste that that may be contaminated by blood, body fluids or other potentially infectious materials; therefore, it must be treated within specialised facilities. 




Former zones of waste disposal. Waste legislation now regulates waste mangement in such a way that informal dumps have been forbidden to be replaced by landfills and incineration units.



Distillation is the process in which the components of a substance or liquid mixture are separated by heating it to a certain temperature and condensing the resulting vapors. There are several types of distillation, among them: vacuum-distillation (under atmospheric pressure) and short-path distillation (the distillate travels a short distance). 




Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance which is discarded after primary use, or it is worthless, defective and of no use.



Household waste

Waste from households' non-professional activities.

These are not household wastes:

  • waste from professional activities (although they are generated by individuals at home);
  • waste produced by individuals outside of their home. 
Inert waste

Inert waste do not decompose, do not burn, and are unreactive, both biologically and chemically. They are not biodegradable and do not decompose in contact with other substances. European definitions consider inert waste as mineral waste. Most inert waste come from the construction industry. To be considered as waste, materials must be evacuated from the construction site. Otherwise, they are not considered as waste (European regulations 2002/R2150 of 25/11/2002 and 849/2010 of 27/09/2010). 



Waste reception center

Pursuant to the circular of May 11, 1989, a center open to individuals for the selective and temporary deposit of waste that cannot be disposed in a satisfactory manner by means of normal collection of domestic waste because of its size, quantity or type.

Final waste

Waste, whether or not derived from waste treatment, which can no longer be treated under present-day technical and economic conditions, in particular extracting of the recoverable part or reducing its pollutant or hazardous character. This definition was laid down by the Circular of April 28, 1998 issued by the Ministry of the Environment concerning the reorientation of departmental plans for the elimination of household and similar waste. Final waste is waste from which the recoverable part has been extracted, including any pollutants, e.g. batteries, accumulators, etc. It is the result of objectives defined in cooperation with plan designers. This definition hinges on the place and time. Article L.541-1 of the French Environmental Code and the Circular of April 28, 1998 concern the implementation and development of Departmental plans for eliminating household and similar waste.


In general, the chemical breakdown of chlorinated molecules such as PCBs by adding reagents such as metallic sodium or certain solvents; a process used to decontaminate oils polluted by PCBs.


Conversion of hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) in liquid waste (e.g. surface treatment baths) into trivalent chromium (less toxic Cr. (III)), by adding reagents such as sodium bisulfite, causing it to precipitate in the form of hydroxides by adding lime. The chromium can be recovered in some cases.


A process used to modify the chemical structure of cyanides (toxic) and cyanates (non-toxic) . Oxidation of cyanides and cyanates, usually by alkaline chlorination using reagents such as sodium hypochlorite.

Mechanical dewatering

Process required to reduce water content, thereby reducing the volume and increasing calorific value (sludge), generally carried out using band or press filters.


Ordinary Industrial Waste. Waste from businesses that can be processed in the same facilities as domestic waste, such as cartons, glass, kitchen waste, packaging, etc. OIW also includes waste produced by trades and small businesses.


Hazardous Industrial Waste. Waste which, because of its dangerous properties, cannot be dumped in storage facilities that take in other waste categories.


Special Industrial Waste. The definition of SIW is laid down in the Decree of 18th April 2002 on the classification of waste. SIW is hazardous waste other than municipal packaging defined in section 15 01 of Appendix II of the Decree and the municipal waste defined in Chapter 20 of the same Appendix.


Special Household Waste: Includes products or items thrown away by households that are either explosive (aerosols), corrosive (acids), harmful, irritants (ammonia, resins), oxidants (chlorates), easily inflammable, or harmful to the environment (heavy metals from some batteries, accumulators, fluorescent lights, etc.) or that cannot be eliminated in the same waste streams as household waste without creating risks for local populations and the environment.


Direction Régionale de l’Industrie, de la Recherche et de l’Environnement (Regional Board for Industry, Research and Environment). See DREAL.


Toxic Waste in Dispersed Quantities. Waste produced in small quantities by craftsmen, small and medium businesses, etc.


Since June 29, 2009, the DREAL have replaced the DIREN, DRE and DRIRE by assuming all their tasks (except industrial development and metrology). The DREAL are regional services which take on policies against climate change, in favor of biodiversity conservation, risk management, as well as housing, urban revitalisation, according to an integrated sustainable development approach. 



Hazardous waste

Hazardous waste is waste that has substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. Listed hazardous wastes are materials specifically listed by regulatory authorities as hazardous wastes which are from non-specific sources, specific sources, or discarded chemical products. Hazardous wastes may be found in different physical states such as gaseous, liquids, or solids. A hazardous waste is a special type of waste because it cannot be disposed of by common means like other by-products of our everyday lives. Depending on the physical state of the waste, treatment and solidification processes might be required.



Household Hazardous Waste – HHW

Household hazardous waste (HHW) are leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic. They include household chemicals and other substances for which the owner no longer has a use, such as consumer products sold for home care, personal care, automotive care, pest control and other purposes. Products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special care when you dispose of them.



Waste from Economic Activities

Definition of the French Code of the Environment (Art. R. 541-8): "all waste, hazardous or non-hazardous, which do not come from houselholds." Economic activities include all productive sectors (agriculture and fishery, housing, service, industry). Part of waste from economic activities are similar to household waste. They can be hazardous waste. 



Household and similar waste

Household and similar waste include waste from economic activities which is similar to household waste, due to its caracteristics and volume. It covers business non-hazardous waste (artisans, salers, etc.) and tertiary sector non-hazardous waste (administrations, hospitals, etc.) which is collected in the same way as household waste. 


Municipal waste

Municipal waste is defined as waste collected and treated by or for municipalities (waste from households and similar waste from economic activities). It covers :

  • mixed household waste;
  • sorted household waste;
  • waste from economic activities similar to household waste;
  • household bulky refuse;
  • waste collected in dumps;
  • hazardous household waste;
  • street sweeping and market cleansing waste;
  • collective sanitation waste;
  • green waste from households and local municipalities. 
Non-hazardous waste

Waste that contain no substances which could dangerous potentially harmful to health or the environment.

Radioactive waste

Radioactive waste is waste type containing radioactive chemical elements that does not have a practical purpose. It is sometimes the product of a nuclear process, such as nuclear fission.The majority of radioactive waste is "low-level waste", meaning it has low levels of radioactivity per mass or volume.This type of waste often consists of items such as used protective clothing, which is only slightly contaminated but still dangerous in case of radioactive contamination of a human body through ingestion, inhalation, absorption, or injection.

Radioactive waste is hazardous to all forms of life and the environment, and is regulated by government agencies in order to protect human health and the environment.


Au sens de la circulaire du 11 mai 1989, constitue une déchetterie un centre ouvert aux particuliers pour le dépôt sélectif et transitoire de déchets, dont ils ne peuvent se défaire de manière satisfaisante par la collecte normale des ordures ménagères du fait de leur encombrement, de leur quantité ou de leur nature.


Separation or extraction of toxic elements contained in hazardous waste before material recovery operations. Decontamination aims to avoid dispertion of toxic substances within recycled waste. The extracted toxic substances must be eliminated.

Disassembling – Dismantling – Dismounting

Operations consisting in dividing an equipment into various sub-parts, including the separation of recoverable elements or polluting elements from an equipment.


Waste holder

Waste producer or any person in possession of waste (according to the Environment Law and not the Civil Law). 


Separation of the aqueous phase and the oily phase of waste (in certain cases the mineral phase) through evaporation. The released steam is thermally oxidized and the oily concentrate can be used as a substitute fuel in incinerators.

Vacuum evaporation

Separation of the aqueous phase and generally oily phase of waste through evaporation. The aqueous phase is biologically degraded and the oily concentrate is incinerated.

Industrial ecology - territorial ecology

Industrial ecology or territorial ecology are scientific fields and modes of action which focus on the relationships between human societies and the biosphere through the investigation of flows and stocks of materials and energy, and through the management of social connections between the actors of these flows. Their aims is to produce knowledge on the compatibility between human activities and the biosphere, by taking the example of natural ecosystems. One of the main practical applications of ITE are industrial symbioses which are industrial complexes where companies exchange flows and share solutions to answer their needs. 



Circular economy

Looking beyond the current "take, make and dispose” extractive industrial model, the circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design. Relying on system-wide innovation, it aims to redefine products and services to design waste out, while minimising negative impacts. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural and social capital. 

The idea is to do better with less. By no means, the circular economy corresponds only to recycling. It offers a systemic vision of material and energy flows, with a range of possibilities for action. The aims is thus to consider the three following fields:

  • Production and distribution of goods and services: sustainable supply of resources, ecodesign, industrial and territorial ecology and efficient design;
  • Consumption - demand and behaviour: responsible purchase and appropriate use of products (responsible consumption), re-use and repair;
  • Waste management: beyond reduction at the source, waste management needs to promote recycling and, if necessary, energy recovery. 

Article L. 541-1-1 of the French Environment Code: "Operation which does correspond to recovery, even though some substances, materials, products or energy can be extracted through this operation." Elimination is a mode of waste treatment. 



Radioactive waste temporary storage

Temporary storage of radioactive waste can last for long periods of time (50-100 years); yet it is not considered a permanent storage. 



A chemical treatment used to recover metals after dissolving it into a solution.


See Classification of radioactive waste.

ICPE - Classified Facilities for the Protection of the Environment

Installation Classée pour la Protection de l’Environnement (classified facilities for the protection of the environment)


Treatment based on combustion with excess air. This treatment can be carried out with or without energy recovery. The European directive of 4 December 2000 on incineration defines an "incineration facility" as any thermal treatment facility, including incineration by oxidation, pyrolysis, gasification or plasma treatment.

Classified facilities

Pursuant to Law No. 76-663 of July 19, 1976, classified facilities are factories, workshops, dumps, sites, quarries and, in general, facilities operated or owned by any natural or legal person, whether public or private, which can represent a danger or disadvantage to the locality or to public health, safety, sanitation, or to the protection of ecosystems and the environment or to the conservation of national heritage sites or monuments. Distinctions are made between facilities subject to declaration to the Prefect’s Office and those subject to authorization from the Prefect’s Office after public scrutiny. Waste treatment facilities fall within this last category.

ISO 14001

Standards related to environmental management

ISO 9001

Standards related to quality management (International Organization for Standardization)

Basic Nuclear Facility – BNF

Basic Nuclear Facility, regulated by Law TSN (Transparence and Nuclear Safety, Law No 2006-686 of June 13, 2006). It is a classified facility with a radiological activity superior to that of a radioactive classified facility (section 1716). A nuclear reactor is an example of BNF. Whereas the term CFPE (Classified Facilities for the Protection of the Environment) covers radiological, chemical, and other risks, the term BNF is specific to nuclear risk. 



Waste storage facility

A waste storage facility is a secure, specially managed space fit to accept final waste (i.e. non-recyclable non-recoverable waste), in order to ensure full environmental and health control. The Storage Facility enables to collect all effluents produced by waste (liquid effluents or biogas for fermentable waste). The activity is regulated by local directives and submitted to the permanent control of the State departments (DREAL). There are several types of Storage Facilities, according to the toxicity level of waste: 

  • Hazardous waste storage facility
  • Non-hazardous waste storage facility
  • Inert non-hazardous waste storage facility


Radioactive waste storage facility

The activity is controlled by local directives and submitted to the permanent control of the State departments (ASN for low-level waste ou more). Regarding radioactive waste, there are different storage facilities according to their stage of life (ongoing project, active, closed or monitored):

  • CSM, Storage facility of the Channel, monitored (since 2003, for 300 years), accepted LLW-LL
  • CSA, active, accepts ILW-LL
  • CIRES (Industrial Facility for Grouping, Disposal and Storage, also called CSTFA), accepting High-level waste
  • LLW-LL Storage facility, ongoing project
  • CIGEO (Geological storage industrial facility), ongoing project, destined to accept ILW-LW and HLW. 



ISO 50001

Standard related to energy management (International Standard Organization)


Liquid containing bacteria and/or chemicals resulting from the degradation of waste after water has flowed through waste, contained in a disposal site or extracted.


Extraction of a soluble compound from a powdered substance, through washing and percolation processes.


Residue resulting from the incineration of waste and from furnaces. It can be recycled for use in public works or stored at landfills. Also known as "clinker".


Production of biogas by the controlled anaerobic breakdown of organic waste


See Classification of radioactive waste.


Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable development and Energy.




The neutralization of an effluent involves bringing its pH (through acidification or alkalization) to a set value as required (e.g. between 7 and 10.5 for the precipitation of metals in the form of hydroxides).

Waste classification

Article R. 541-7 of the French Environment Code : "There exists a unique list of wastes which can be found in Annex II of Article R. 541-8. All informations related to wastes must be provided using the codes indicated in this list."

This unique list is used to designate wastes in such a way that different actors can use a common language. Nonetheless, this classification differs from that of the Basel Convention related to cross-border transfers of hazardous waste. 

In this list, one can find:

  • hazardous waste
  • non-hazardous waste
  • intert waste
  • municipal waste
  • specific waste (from branches)

Wastes are classified in a unique list, using a six-digit code which varies according to the type of waste, the economic sector from which it comes from, and the process which generated it. The list is divided into 20 chapters or original categories, 120 intermediate groupings and about 650 waste designations. Hazardous waste are marked with an asterisk *.

The six-digit code can be decomposed as follows: Example 06 - 02 - 01*


  • 2 first digits = original category = waste from mineral chemistry processes 
  • 2 middle digits = intermediate grouping = waste from fabrication, formulation, distribution, and use of chemical bases
  • 2 last digits = waste designation = calcium hydroxide
  • * meaning waste is hazardous

The unique list must be used during all processes of elimination, disposal or acceptance of waste. The waste producer is responsible for the caracterisation of waste, and for the adequate use of the waste code. 



Polychlorinated biphenyls. Oil used in electrical equipment - transformers and capacitors – for its dielectric properties. The main commercial names used for the molecule are Pyralène™ and Askarel. Improper combustion of PCB generates dioxins. This product has been banned since the early 1980s, and devices still in use must be decontaminated by 2010 (European Directive 95/59/EC of September 16, 1996).

Pyrolysis or thermolysis

Thermal treatment in essentially air-free conditions when oxidation is incomplete. In some cases, these processes generate a combustible by-product that must then be handled appropriately.


Thermal treatment used to melt metals in order to refine or separate them.

Radioactive period (or life, or half-life)

Radioactivity refers to the propensity of certain atomic nuclei to disintegrate spontaneously; radioactivity thus disappears of itself, according to a decreasing exponential law governed by the period. After a half-life, it remains half of the initial radioactivity, after 2 periods, the quarter, etc. After 10 periods, it remains the thousandth (more exactly the 1024th).



Chemical operation consisting in producing metallic hydroxide or metallic salt by adjusting the pH of a solution. 




Activities associated with the handling and transport of waste from its production site to its collection site. 



Preparation for re-use

Activities of control, cleaning and repair aimed to recovery, through which the products and components of waste are prepared for re-use without the need of any other treatment operation. 



Operation that leads to the modification of the chemical composition or the physical characteristics of waste and which requires additional treatment or controlled landfilling. The main purpose is to direct, by means of mixtures and phase separations, each fraction of waste towards its optimum economic destination (Circular of 30 August 1985).




Any action taken before a substance, material or product becomes a waste, which contributes to the reduction of at least one of the following:

  • the quantity of waste generated, including through the re-use or extension of the period of use of the substances, materials or products;
  • the harmful effects of waste products on the environment and human health;
  • the content of harmful components for the environment and human health contained in substances, materials or products.
Waste producer

Any person who produces waste through their activity (initial waste producer) or who performs waste treatment operations leading to a change in nature or composition of waste (subsequent waste producer). 




Collecting and/or sorting waste in order to recover the products and substances that they contain.


Article L. 541-1-1 of the French Environment Code : "Any recovery operation through which wastes, including organic wastes, are transformed into substances, materials and products with the same or different aims as before treatment. Waste energy recovery operatons, such as waste transformation into fuel and infilling operations, cannot be qualified as recycling operations."

Operation consisting in integrating materials from waste into a new cycle of production which enables to replace totally or partially the use of virgin raw materials. 

As for radioactive waste, recycling is only authorised in France within the nuclear industry. 



Process by which a used product designed and manufactured for a specific use is reused for the same or different purpose. Reclaiming and repackaging are special types of reuse.


Purified emission residue: Residue resulting from dust removal and the neutralization of incinerator emissions. May sometimes be confused with fly ash.


Residues from the Purification of Incineration Fumes from Household Waste. These include ashes resulting from dust removal and the residues from the neutralization of fumes. The combustion of one ton of household waste produces between 20kg and 50kg of RPIFHW depending on the process used (wet or dry).

Non-recoverable waste

Industrial waste that is not recoverable after sorting. Some non-recoverable waste may be subject to subsequent treatment.


The transport of waste is optimized by grouping small quantities of waste at specialized facilities (in general, waste is initially sorted by type). Waste from diverse origins but of comparable or compatible nature may be combined if necessary.

Waste from fume purification

Residue resulting from dust removal and the neutralization of incinerator emissions. May sometimes be confused with fly ash.

Ion exchanging resins

Ion exchange is an ionic process involving electrostatic surface energy which allows for the exchange of ions dissolved from a solution with oppositely charged counterions on an insoluble grainy substance. This substance is generally synthetic and referred to as a resin.

Reclaimed waste

Recycled waste which is used for an application other than its original purpose


Process that restores the physical-chemical characteristics to waste enabling it to be used as an alternative to virgin raw material.

Regeneration is a recycling operation. This operation is based on processes for refining a fluid or a solid, involving the extraction of the polluting or unwanted fraction contained in the waste. The different types of regeneration:

  • Regeneration of oils
  • Regeneration of solvents,
  • Regeneration of fluorinated gases,
  • Regeneration of plastics,
  • Regeneration of catalysts,...
Reinforced Natural Radioactivity - RNR

Natural radioactivity (in general 238U, 232Th and lower, the most significative being 226Ra) concentrated due to human activities. RNR is found in oil industries, rare lands, phosphates, zirconium.

Extended producer responsability - EPR

The principle of extended producer responsability (REP) has been enacted 35 years ago by the French Law n° 75-633 of July 15, 1975 regarding waste elimination and materials recovery. It was codified by Article L. 541-10 from the French Environment Code. This principle is also recognised by the European Law through the directive 2008/98/CE (Art. 8) of November 19, 2008.

According to this principle, whoever brings products on the French market (national producers, importers, distributors of their own brands) must participate to or finance waste management of their own products. They can meet these duties:

  • Individually, by implementing an individual collection and treatment system
  • Collectively, by joining and financing an "éco-organisme" to which they can delegate their duties

In practice, most of the agents who bring products on the market choose the latter solution. The first EPR branch was implemented in 1993 to deal with packages. Since then, the categories of products regulated by the extended producer responsability principle have increased considerably. Such increase is due to the extension of the EPR perimeter to new products. This has generated new progress in recycling and waste recovery. 

EPR branches can be classified according to two categories : 

  • financial branches, in which waste producers bring financial support to waste managers to enhance performance, without taking direct responsability for waste management. 
  • operational branches, in which waste producers take reponsability on an individual level or through some "éco-organismes" for waste management. 

Four EPR branches were implemented following a European directive: packaging, batteries and accumulators, automobile and electric and electronic devices. Depending on the type of products, EPR can affect products destined to households or professionals, or both.  

The mains EPR branches in France (launching dates in chronological order):

  • households' packaging (January 1, 1993)
  • households' batteries and accumulators (2001)
  • households' and professionals' tires (2004)
  • professionals' eletric and electronic devices (2005)
  • used vehicles (2006)
  • printed papers (2006)
  • households' eletric and electronic devices(2006)
  • textile, linen and shoes (2007)
  • extension of printed papers to graphic papers (2008)
  • unused human-designed drugs: operational since 1993, becomes a regulation in (2009)
  • extension of household batteries and accumulators to all batteries and accumulators (portable, automotive and industrial) (2009)
  • extension of paper prints to blank domestic and similar graphic papers (2010)
  • household chemicals (specific diffuse waste) (2012)
  • furniture waste (2012)
  • infectious medical waste from self-treatment patients (2012)

In addition, a branch on agro-supply waste (unused phytopharmaceuticals, empty packaging of plant protection products, seed and plant packaging, fertilizer packaging, plastic films) was launched in 2001, by professional organizations in the agricultural sector. Finally, a branch which is the subject of a framework agreement with the State opened at the end of 2011 for printing cartridges.


European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road 


Article L. 541-1-1 of the Environment Code: "any operation by which substances, materials or products that have become waste are used again. "

Preparation for reuse: Article L. 541-1-1 of the Environmental Code: "any operation of control, cleaning or repair for the purpose of recovery, by which products or components that have become waste are prepared for reuse without further pre-treatment. "


Stabilisation or Solidification

Waste stabilization used for optimum retention of pollutants through chemical and/or physical reactions, based on "cold" processes (mainly involving hydraulic or organic binders as well as various reagents) or "hot" processes such as vitrification. Due to the nature of the processes, the waste is also solidified.

SEVESO (regulation)

The emotion caused by the accidental release of Dioxin in 1976 in the municipality of SEVESO in Italy prompted European states to adopt, through the implementation of the SEVESO directive, a common policy on the prevention of major industrial risks.

It distinguishes two types of establishments, according to the total quantity of hazardous materials on site:

  • high threshold SEVESO establishments (656 at the last census of 31/12/2014)
  • low threshold SEVESO establishments  (515 at the last census of 31/12/2014)

The security measures and procedures laid down in the Directive vary according to the type of institution (high threshold or low threshold), in order to consider a certain proportionality. A new version of the SEVESO directive (known as SEVESO III) received a European institutional agreement in March 2012 and entered into force in June 2015 (Source MEDDE).


End of waste status

Ordinance No. 2010-1579 of 17 December 2010 on various provisions for adaptation to European Union law in the field of waste adds Article L. 541-4-3 to the Environment Code. This article introduces the possibility for a waste to go out of waste status and become a product again (subject to the criteria defined by the authorities: example of Council Regulation 333/2011 of 31 March 2011 establishing the criteria for determining when certain types of metal debris cease to be waste within the meaning of Directive 2008/98 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council).




General Tax on Polluting Activities


Physical, thermal, chemical or biological processes, including sorting, which modify the characteristics of waste so as to reduce its volume and dangerous nature, facilitate its handling and favor its reuse. (Directive 199/31/EC of April 26, 1999 on the disposal of waste)

Physical-chemical treatment

These treatments include emulsion breaking, neutralisation, dechromatation, cyanide removal, dewatering, resin regeneration and dechlorination.

Thermal treatment

Treatment of waste through the use of heat. This includes incineration, pyrolysis and thermolysis.

Transfer or transit

Change of vehicles between collection, sorting, treatment and/or storage facilities in order to optimise transportation. This may include several transfers.


Moving waste from one location to another without performing collection.


Process whereby waste is separated into different categories (boxes, plastic, wooden crates, etc.) in order to facilitate its disposal using the specific processes for each category. Separating waste prior to disposal avoids the need for sorting.


See Classification of radioactive waste


Household Waste Incineration Unit


Process that restores the physical-chemical characteristics to waste enabling it to be used as an alternative to virgin raw material. It emcompasses all forms of reuse, recycling and regeneration of waste. 

Recovery = product recovery + energy recovery

Energy recovery

Use of an energy source resulting from the treatment of waste.

Product recovery

Use of all or part of waste to replace an element or material.

  • Product recovery excludes all forms of energy recovery
  • Solid Recovery Fuels production can be considered as a product recovery operation 
Organic recovery

Aerobic (e.g. composting) or anaerobic (e.g. biomethanisation) treatment of biodegradable waste performed by micro-organisms under controlled conditions leading to the production of soil fertiliser, organic amendment and methan. Disposal by landfill can be considered as a form of organic recycling. 



See Classification of radioactive waste


See Classification of radioactive waste.

Waste management

Collection, transportation, recovery, and elimination of waste, and, more broadly, all activities participating to the handling of waste from production to final treatment, incluing trading and brokering activities and monitoring operations. (Ordinance / L. 541.1)


OHSAS 18001

Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series

Household and similar wastes

Article 46 of Law No 2009-967 of August 3, 2009 related to the implementation of the "Grenelle de l'environnement" introduces the concept of "Household and Similar Wastes". These are wastes which are produced on a daily basis by economic actors and collected by public services (residual household waste and selected household waste, collected at the door or brought to collection centers: glass, packages, newspapers-magazines). This term does not encompass green waste, bulky refuse, hazardous waste, material and building rubble,... that is, waste which are produced occasionally by households, whatever their mode of collection.