Paris restaurants turn food scraps into biogas

Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:22am EST
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By Geert De Clercq

PARIS (Reuters) - A group of Paris restaurants is turning food scraps into biogas and compost ahead of a new law that will force thousands of French food outlets to recycle their organic waste.

Some 80 restaurants, caterers and hotels, including gourmet food company Fauchon and Michelin-starred Taillevent, signed up for a pilot project to collect their food waste, which is used to generate biogas and produce electricity and heat, as well as compost for farms around Paris.

The initiative, launched earlier this month, comes ahead of a tightening of environmental legislation that by 2016 will force up to one in five restaurants to recycle their organic waste or face fines of up to 75,000 euros.

France, which lags northern European countries in recycling, is driving efforts to turn organic waste into methane as it tries to reduce landfill, incineration and greenhouse gases.

Stephan Martinez of neighborhood bistrot Le Petit Choiseuil, who took the initiative for the project, said the collection anticipates the law but that participating restaurants are happy that someone collects their waste and puts it to good use.

"The positive response from customers about recycling is also a big bonus," said Martinez, whose 50-seat restaurant produces only about five tons of organic waste per year.

In his own tiny kitchen, cooks now put peelings and leftovers in transparent plastic bags that are collected every morning by quiet biogas-fuelled trucks.

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Stephan Martinez, owner of Le Petit Choiseuil bistrot, poses with a garbage container to collect food waste in Paris February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau