France/At La Plaine market, the town council launches a litter hunt

Published on 20/02/2024 | La rédaction


Marseille's biggest market, at La Plaine, is generating waste management problems. Flying plastic bags, abandoned cardboard boxes... The city is hoping to change this with its "clean market" scheme.

" Zero waste, zero plastic ". On the morning of Saturday February 17, these words sound a little optimistic in the mouths of Marseille's municipal councillors. A stroll through the aisles of the popular Plaine market is more like a celebration of plastic and packaging.

The majority of customers carry single-use plastic bags, even though these are prohibited by law. They are distributed by the fairground stallholders, whose stalls are filled with products " often 'made in China' and over-packaged ", notes Christine Juste. The deputy mayor in charge of the environment, along with her counterpart in charge of public spaces, Roland Cazzola, presented the new "clean market" scheme.

Although the Métropole is responsible for waste management, " the market is municipal and generates a lot of litter problems, which are difficult for the intermunicipal services to manage ". She knows a thing or two about this from her position as metropolitan councillor "responsible for the cleanliness of the city of Marseille".

" We want to put an end to plastic trees ", says Roland Cazzola, reminding us that on windy days, after the fairground vendors have left, the trees on Place Jean-Jaurès sometimes look like fir trees decorated with white bags.

8.8 tonnes of waste recycled in one month

Following discussions with local residents, who were fed up, and with the fairground workers, some of whom were leaving their garbage behind, the town introduced new collection rules. " They must no longer leave any garbage lying around, during or after the market ", explains Christine Juste.

To help stallholders comply with this new charter, the town council has called in a collection and sorting service provider: Synchronicity. For the past month, on market days, the company has been setting up 10 skips, spread across the square, for fairground stallholders to dispose of their waste.

" It's working, they're playing the game, there's nothing lying around on the ground like there used to be", says the deputy environment manager, who is keen to convince us with the figures: " In the last month, we've collected and recycled 8.8 tonnes of waste ". Top of the list is cardboard, with almost 1.5 tonnes recovered per week " which is recycled or directly reused ".

"Consumers also need to play the game ," she adds. To this end, the city distributes shopping bags to customers to encourage them to abandon plastic bags.

All Marseille markets soon to be concerned

However, awareness-raising does have its limits, and some vendors are still handing out single-use bags. " The municipal police have started to issue fines," says Roland Cazzola. As one shopkeeper confirms: " I was fined 35 euros because plastic bags were lying around on my stall...".

After this awareness-raising phase, police severity is set to increase. " But we prefer dialogue to change behavior ," insists Christine Juste, for whom the Plaine market " is a laboratory for dialogue. With a permanent contact person from the town to discuss matters with shopkeepers, local residents and fairground workers...".

This experiment will enable us to draw lessons, and then " duplicate this waste management approach at Marseille's 29 markets ", announces Roland Cazzola.


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