France

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France is a major European player in the field of eco-innovation, and possesses a strong track record in environmental regulation and support schemes – targeting both public and private actors (including individuals). This is illustrated by its strong ranking in the 2015 Eco-Innovation Scoreboard (seventh among the 28 EU Member States). However, France still falls behind a number of front-runners, particularly due to limited energy and water productivity and limited green early-stage investments. Increasing levels of resource efficiency, particularly energy efficiency, in key sectors such as transport and building are also key priorities.

The most important eco-innovation areas in France are linked to network and network management industries, and more specifically water management and sanitation, waste management, and environmental engineering. These sectors are well organised around very large international firms that are also major aggregators of innovations.

Since 2010, a group of clusters, focusing on environmental technologies, have supported the creation of innovative local networks of SMEs and large companies based around water and waste management, energy efficiency, renewable energies, smart cities and smart transport. These clusters act as a major testbed for the emergence of eco-innovations, and help to bring together public and private partners around common issues.

In addition, the national and regional support to eco-innovation and the circular economy is strong. At the national level, a number of dedicated calls for projects have been set up in recent years, complementing existing support measures such as eco-innovation equity funds or tax incentives focusing on the demand side of eco-innovation. At the regional level, 20 out of the 22 (former) metropolitan regions have at least one strategic domain of their Regional Smart Specialisation Strategy directly related to eco-industries. 

2015 Eco-innovation Scoreboard ranking and eco-innovation index composites for France

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Renault SITA joint venture for automobile recycling

Labels: France Water supply

The Renault vehicle manufacturing company and SITA France (a subsidiary of Suez Environnement) have joined forces to create a joint venture specialised in the recycling of end-of-life vehicles and the production of secondary materials. This is the first time in France that two companies in their respective sectors create a formal partnership in order to optimise the car-recycling process. Both companies will work together in order not only to improve the recycling process, but also more upstream issues such as car design and use of materials. As a result, the joint venture will promote the development of a more comprehensive approach to vehicle recycling, while allowing collaboration between stakeholders involved in each relevant stage of the process (from car conception and design to the production of secondary materials).

The objectives of the project are part of Renault’s environmental programme adopted in 1995, which currently seeks to recycle and transform 95% of each produced vehicle by 2015. The programme includes a set of actions such as increasing the rate of reuse of raw materials in existing processes; developing new processes in the fields of recycling of materials contained in end-of-life vehicles; establish partnerships and collaboration with other actors in the automobile industry.

As part of the programme, Renault has implemented a number of actions such as the creation of the Renault eco2 line of products which guarantees the use of at least 5% of recycled plastics in new vehicles. The company has also integrated design standards into the production line of its vehicles aimed at facilitating the dismantling of used cars and the recycling of detached parts.

Barriers and Drivers

One of the main barriers to such innovations lies in the fact that the chain of value of recycling and reuse  of secondary materials is highly fragmented. In order to gurarantee the adoption of an integrated approach to material reuse, links much be established between the actors responsible for the design of products, their production and the management of waste once the product has reached the end of its life. It is because of this that the Renault and SITA partnership has proven to be highly innovative.

In addition to this industries are often hesitant to make use of secondary materials due to safety and quality issues. It is often considered that the use of secondary materials, instead of primary materials, may reduce the quality of the final product. As a result, sufficient proof regarding the endurance and depndability of secondary materials needs to be provided, making the testing and verification of such products essential to their market diffusion.

In spite of this, the industrial sector has strongly increased its use of secondary raw materials due to the sharp increase in the the price of primary materials and commdities. Secondary materials are not only cheaper than primary materials, but there are also considerably gains made in terms of transportation which also reduce their price on the market. In addition, some companies have developed a marketing argument based on their use of secondary materialsin their final products.

Economic Performance

In terms of economic performance, the joint venture offers an important business opportunity for both companies involved. In addition to this, Renault expect to make savings based on the use of secondary materials in the production of its vehicles, which are produced 'in-house'. As a result, the venture representes a 'win-win' situation for both companies. 

Social Performance

The recycling sector holds a strong potential in terms of job creation. In addiition, the use of secondary materials in indsutry makes economies less dependant on the import of foreign raw materials and commodities, making them less vulnerable to fluctuations in international market prices and cycles.

Environmental Impact

Such projects have a direct impact on the material productivity of the economy, reducing the volume of waste generated as well as the voulme of raw materials extracted for industrial production activities. Such efforts represent a step forward in the creation of circular economies.

Further Information

http://www.sita.fr/

http://www.renault.com/fr/groupe/developpement-durable/environnement/pages/renault-et-sita.aspx

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