In recent years, waste sorting in France has become very important and essential. If you don't sort your waste in France, it's kind of embarrassing!

Even though it's true that we don't have the most efficient recycling and waste sorting system, it's still important to do it and respect it.

Here's how to properly sort your waste when you're in France!

First and foremost, we will categorize several types of waste:

  • Household waste or domestic garbage: these are non-recyclable waste, such as leftovers (if they are not compostable), plastic bags (non-recyclable), diapers, etc.
  • Compostable waste: fruit or vegetable peels, leftover food, etc.
  • Paper, cardboard, and plastic packaging: Plastic bottles and containers, cardboard packaging, cans, etc.
  • Glass: Glass bottles, jars, and pots.
  • Green waste: Grass, leaves, small branches, etc.
  • Bulky waste: Furniture, mattresses, large appliances, etc.
  • Specific or hazardous waste: Batteries, medications, light bulbs, etc.

Each city may have a different waste sorting system, but in general, they are similar.

At home, we have a large gray or brown bin where we put our household waste. We throw in the most common waste: non-recyclable food or non-recyclable packaging, etc.

We may also have a large yellow bin or yellow garbage bags. Inside, we place paper, cardboard, and recyclable plastic waste.

Regarding other waste such as glass or papers and magazines, we usually don't have bins of this type at home. We have to go to a place in our city where there are large dumpsters. There's often a glass dumpster, a paper/magazine dumpster, and a cardboard one. We bring our waste and dispose of it in these dumpsters.

For green waste, bulky items, specific or hazardous waste, they should be disposed of at the dump. The dump is a large place where we can bring large waste items, like a broken old bike or a TV that no longer works.

In dumps, we will also find various dumpsters or sections where we dispose of each type of waste: wood, green waste, appliances, batteries, etc.

If you have objects that you no longer want but are still functional, like books or clothes, you can donate them to a resource center. It's a place that sells second-hand items that have often been donated.

Sometimes, in certain stores, you can find specific bins where you can dispose of your light bulbs, batteries, or electrical devices. You can also go to a pharmacy to dispose of your expired medications.

It's not yet mandatory, but to recycle your waste even better, you can have a compost. A compost is a bin where we put organic waste, like leftover food, vegetable peels, etc. Over time, these waste items decompose thanks to small organisms like earthworms and bacteria. Eventually, it produces very rich and dark soil, which is great for feeding plants.


French vocabulary exercise on waste recycling: