This guide will help you sort your trash and recycle in France. It can be confusing to understand what trash can go in what bin, so we will cover everything you need to know in this guide.
Types of recycling bins
In Paris, the trash system is organized by color-coded bins. Each color represents a different type of waste, making it easier for residents to dispose of their unwanted items. In recent years, the city has also introduced a bin for food waste.
Types of recycling bins
The yellow bins (“les bacs jaune”), are designated for recycling. These bins accept a wide range of materials, including paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, metal cans, and any other items that are packaged in paper, metal or plastic and labeled for recycling. This includes items such as yogurt and fruit compote containers, polystyrene food boxes, frozen food plastic bags, plastic bags, and plastic film (clingwrap).
Additionally, the yellow bin can also accept egg containers, aluminum foil, aerosol cans and even aluminum coffee capsules. When using the yellow recycle bins, there are two important rules to follow:
- The containers must be empty, however you do not need to rinse them.
- The items must be placed in the recycle bin loose (i.e. not enclosed in a bag).
The brown bins (“les bacs marron”) are used for composting food scraps. These scraps should be placed in a compostable bag before being disposed of in the brown bin. It’s important to note that not all food items can be composted. Currently, this service is only available in the 2nd, 12th, and 19th arrondissements. More information is available on the Paris city website.
The white bins (“les bacs blanc”) are used for glass items like wine and champagne bottles and food jars. The bin is recognisable by its white lid and green body. If your building does not have one, you can look for a large gray bin on a street corner. You can put glass in there either with their lids or without, and they should be empty, but again no need to rinse them.
A small note is that broken wine or water glasses, porcelain and other dishes, mirrors or windows can’t be recycled because they heat at different temperatures. However they can go into the regular green 🟢 bin.
Other types of recycling bins
If your apartment does not offer recycling bins, Paris since 2019 has introduced new Trilib’ public recycle bins that accept glass ⚪, plastics and metal paper and cardboard 🟡. These bins are clearly labeled on the street so you won’t make any mistakes.
In addition to the color-coded bins mentioned above, there are also recycling centers available throughout the city where you can drop off your unwanted items. Ecosytem and Trimobile handles e-waste. You can find a list of their locations in the section “helpful resources“.
Containers and packaging
It is important to properly sort containers and packaging materials such as paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, glass, and styrofoam. Knowing which bin to place these items in is essential for effective recycling.
Paper and cardboard 🟡
Paper and cardboard items, including newspapers, magazines, cardboard packaging (both clean and soiled), and cardboard pieces, should be placed in the yellow bin. These items should be emptied but do not need to be washed.
Plastic bottles and containers should also be placed in the yellow bin. They should be emptied but do not need to be rinsed.
Metal items such as cans, jar lids, bottle caps, and other metals should also be placed in the yellow bin. Like paper and plastic items, they must be emptied but do not need to be washed.
Glass items such as wine bottles and food jars should be placed in the white bin. They can be put in there with or without their lids and should be empty but do not need to be rinsed
Styrofoam food boxes can now also be placed in the yellow bin along with other recyclable materials such as paper, metal, and plastic.
Food waste can be composted using the brown bin. This bin is designated for compostable food scraps, which should be placed in a compostable bag before being disposed of. At present, this service is only available in the 2nd, 12th, and 19th arrondissements
Clothes and shoes
Used clothing, shoes, and home linens can be recycled using the Trilib’ public recycle bin. These items should be sealed in plastic bags no larger than 30 liters before being placed in the bin.
When it comes to recycling electronics, small items such as hair dryers, phones, and keyboards can no longer be placed in the yellow bin. Instead, these items should be taken to a dedicated electronics recycling facility. A map of these facilities can be found around Paris. There is also a mobile trailer that arrives in certain neighborhoods on different dates, called Trimobile. Alternatively, you can take your electronics to stores like FNAC or large shopping centers like Carrefour for recycling.
Batteries can also be recycled at electronic stores like FNAC or large shopping centers like Carrefour.
Phones, computers and electronics
Phones, computers, and other electronics can be taken to an electronics recycling facility near you for recycling.
Printer cartridges and toner
Printer cartridges and toner can also be recycled at the same facilities.
Light bulbs can be taken to electronic stores like FNAC or shopping centers like Carrefour for recycling or Ecosytem.
Furniture and appliances
Furniture and appliances can be taken to an Ecosystem recycling center for disposal.
If you have other items that you’re unsure how to dispose of, you can consult the Paris city website for more information.
Here is a map of Ecosystem centers.