In exchange for donations for their associations, they collect thousands of garbage each year.

The mechanics have been well-oiled since Charlotte Gentric set it up in her hometown, in Saint-Maurice (Val de Marne). A box is placed at the entrance to the library annex and surrounded by indications that clearly specify the nature of the waste to be placed inside. Right now, it’s compote gourds and packaging for bread or pastries.

It was gradually filled with inhabitants, until Charlotte Gentric took over. “Once every two weeks,” he said. Another card is installed in the main library, the other is in a primary school in the city center, which is raised at the same frequency. And it’s not uncommon, from now on, that the mother of the family comes into direct contact with people carrying boxes full of looking trash.

One million pieces of garbage have been collected since 2014

All the boxes went through Charlotte Gentric’s box, in the basement of her residence. He organizes the waste to eliminate mistakes and when his collections have reached a sufficient weight – “30 kg for example for gourds of compotes”, he specifies -, he sends them through the mail company that UPS, free of charge for him, is in Troisvilles, in the Lille region, where TerraCycle, a company in the recycling sector, has its classification center.

Since 2014, La Francilienne has collected more than a million pieces of waste for a total weight of 22 tons. Compote gourds, bread and brioche packaging, but also toothbrushes, coffee capsules, pens and other supplies (highlighter, markers, correctors), cosmetic product packaging, tights … In other words, the all of this waste plastic is “technically recyclable, but not in conventional sorting channels, for the lack of real markets behind it” explains Alyssa Cau, public relations officer at TerraCycle . “They went to landfill or burned, which in our view are the two worst treatment solutions,” added Aurélien Dumont, who manages member relations at Zero Waste, an NGO that promotes the Zero Waste approach.

Garbage for donations

TerraCyclé, created in the United States in 2001, has made a specialty from these little treated plastics. “We re-sort them, before cleaning and crushing them to make plastic pellets,” Alyssa Cau continues. These are sold to manufacturing companies that use them to make new products of all kinds. Furniture, watering cans, containers, lids for playgrounds or playgrounds.

In March 2021, TerraCycle said it had recycled 7.762 billion worth of waste in the 21 countries where it operates. Everything, in the beginning, was collected by individuals. More than 202 million people worldwide, the company claims. This is the foundation of the collection system set by TerraCycle. It launches recycling programs in partnership with companies that sell this hard-to-recycle waste*. About twenty are currently open in France. Whoever wants to register there, as long as they are of legal age and still have space. It is up to these volunteers to fix their collection system and set up their brigades.

A different perspective? Money. Or, more specifically, donations. Each recycled waste brings funds to the brigade that collected it that it can redistribute to the organization of its choice. The rules change according to the programs. A gourd of compote collected brings, for example, a point convertible against 0.01 euro.

20,000 euros were collected over eight years

It says very little. However, last year, Charlotte Gentric collected 1,639 euros and “more than 10,000 euros in eight years”, she referred to. The mother really benefits from it ** “Dachshund without a sweet home”, an association of which she is a member and collects abandoned dachshunds, takes care of them, puts them in family relays until they find a new home.

If this sum is not the association’s primary income, “it remains very important, especially when donations from individuals tend to go down”, Charlotte Gentric continues. David Cholez would not say the opposite. From Marguerittes, just outside Nîmes, Gardois is another very active waste collection volunteer for TerraCycle. To the point, he, too, has passed the milestone of a million pieces of garbage collected since he started, in 2014 as well. “We should be at 2 million by the end of the year,” he hopes.

David Cholez also started by going around the surrounding schools to look for trash, until it became a “Mister collection” for students. “But, now that we’re known, we’re always called by individuals who suggest to collect garbage in their environment and send it to us or pick it up,” he said. This is how Gardois now manages to collect between 300,000 and 400,000 pieces of garbage per year today. “It has allowed us to collect 4,000 euros per year in recent years and 20,000 euros in eight years,” he said. These donations benefit the association “Le marathon de la prématurité” he leads to help parents of children born prematurely. “We look for residential solutions or we fund their trips between their home and the hospital, which are sometimes very far away,” he explains. We also buy equipment like nursing pillows or night lights. »

Remember that the best waste is what you don’t do?

For David Cholez, these collections make it possible for TerraCycle to make a double blow, “by making it possible to raise, relatively easily now, up to a third of the association’s budget, while making good gestures for environment “, he launched. At the last point, Aurélien Dumont, of Zéro Waste, is both qualified. “There’s a lack of transparency on TeraCycle’s part in what concrete becomes waste, he regrets. How much is actually being recycled? And what is the company doing for plastics that currently don’t have a recycling solution?” We’re just launching. of recycling programs for waste that we know above that we can recover, “we replied to TerraCycle. And it is the partnerships we have formed with companies that allow us to remove the economic brake that facing traditional classification channels. »

This is the second downside of Aurélien Dumont: “These collections organized by TerraCycle should not be an excuse for companies to use this packaging, which is difficult to recycle, not to try to improve it or even, even better. , to reduce it. “, he insists, recalling that this should be the priority now. David Cholez and Charlotte Gentric said they know these limitations. But it’s also the positive point of the eight years of collections that are behind them today. Over time, they have become great connoisseurs of recycling, being identified as such in their cities to the point of regularly intervening in schools. “And the first message is always to say that the best trash is what we don’t do,” Charlotte Gentric said.

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