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France

Environmental rules

Updated 09/2009

Legal requirements

France adopted its national sustainable development strategy in 2003 and its environment charter in 2004.

The purpose of sustainable development for businesses is to improve and assess environmental, social and economic performance.

Policy covering this is established by the:

  • CIDD   (inter-ministerial committee for sustainable development);
  • CNDD   (national sustainable development council);
  • French chambers of commerce and industry.

Environmental control

France's environment code for businesses is overseen by MEDAD (ecology and sustainable development ministry)

Water management

The European directive on water protection and management has set ambitious targets for clean surface and underground water.

France's law on water and aquatic environments has tightened waste water regulations for businesses:

  • tougher penalties for business owners disposing of waste illegally ;         
  • new procedure for obtaining a disposal permit ;         
  • changes to how pollution tax is calculated - now based on net pollution;         
  • new levy to help pay for waste collection network modernisation.

Waste management

The environment code:

  • sets out the priorities for waste management;
  • provides for departmental and regional plans for eliminating waste;
  • lists the classified facilities for protecting the environment and sets out details on issuing permits for operating waste storage or treatment plants.

Businesses are free to go beyond the minimum environmental legal requirements at their own initiative.

Administrative procedures

Declaration procedures

Land development

All business owners are subject to a company premises declaration procedure. The completed declaration is then sent to the local prefecture.

Waste management

Anyone producing hazardous waste must submit a hazardous waste tracking document (BSDD) to the environment ministry. All businesses must also pay certain levies, e.g. a special levy for removing non-domestic waste, charges for removing non-hazardous waste, etc.

Permits and licences

Water

The law on water and aquatic environments has amended the disposal permit procedure. This mandatory permit is required by each commune's decontamination department.

The  '            water            '            nomenclature   is a list of plants, structures, works and activities (IOTA) which have an influence on water or how aquatic systems function.

It includes the systems for permits and declarations according to the hazards of the IOTA and the seriousness of their impact on water resources and aquatic systems.

Resources

The French              environment and energy management agency (ADEME) offers an array of helpful tools:

  • 'carbon footprint' software, which calculates a business's greenhouse gas emissions;     
  • pre-diagnosis and diagnosis specifications to encourage rational energy use;     
  • eco-business planning.    

The chamber of commerce and industry portal offers detailed information on waste management, air, sites and soil, water and energy.

France also has a waste exchange for waste recycling between businesses.

Help & advice

Help & advice

Waste management   assistance bodies:

  • DRIRE (regional directorates for industry, research and the environment - local cooperation)
  • EPE (information and tools on environmental policy)
  • INERIS (helping businesses adapt to environmental risk prevention)
  • ADEME (business advice and help with financing projects)
  • CFDE (environmental training and documentation centre for businesses)

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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