Circular economy business opportunities in France

France shows interesting characteristics for doing business with in the field of circular economy. With its GDP ranking 6th in the world, a geographically favorable location and having ambitious circular economy and waste management goals, French-Dutch collaboration is not unlikely.

Thinking about doing business in France? Scroll through an overview of facts & figures, policy landscape, selected priority areas and relevant upcoming events and networks! OR just download the printable and compact 2-pager below!

An overview of the most important information for business in France

Facts & Figures

Economic indicators

  • Population (2019): 66,99 mln 
  • Nominal GDP (2018): €2 353 090 million, world rank: 6th 
  • Purchasing power (2018): €39 691 
  • Import from the NL (2018): €39,1 milliard 
  • Economic growth (2018): 1.7% 
  • Ease of doing business rank (2020): 32/190 
  • Corruption index: 23/180 
  • Unemployment rate (2019): 8,5% 
  • Currency: Euro 
  • Time difference NL: +0.00 hrs

Circular economy indicators

  • Global innovation index (2019): 16/129  
  • Municipal waste recycling rate (2018): 44% 
  • Circular material use rate (2017): 18.6% 


Source: 10 key indicators for monitoring the circular economy – 2017 edition

Policy landscape

EU level

In 2015 European Commission adopted the Circular Economy Action Plan, which included comprehensive measures addressing waste management. The EU laws set minimum recycling, landfilling, material recovering and renewable energy consumption targets. Among other initiatives introduced in the Plan is the plastics strategy which aims to ban and reduce consumption of certain types of single-use plastic. France transposes EU legislation on CE timely and performs relatively well in attaining its targets. New Circular Economy Action Plan adopted in March 2020 will aim among others to facilitate circularity in textile industry and production of electronic equipment. 

Currently main targets include: 

  • min. 65% of municipal waste to be recycled by 2035 
  • min. 70% of all packaging waste to be recycled by 2030 
  • max. 10% of municipal waste to be landfilled by 2035 
  • certain types of single use plastic products will be prohibited to place on market as of July 2021 
  • min. 32 % of the Union’s gross final consumption of energy to originate from renewable sources by 2030


National level

The Law on energy transition for green growth has set targets for GHG reduction, fossil fuels and renewable energy consumption. In this law, car, naval, wood, chemical, waste, construction and demolition industries are all identified as having strongest potential to increase material efficiency. The law will strengthen France’s energy independence and give businesses and citizens access to energy at a competitive cost. The new Law on fighting waste and the circular economy, adopted in March 2020, aims to phase out single use plastics by 2040, minimize waste generation, improve reuse and recycling and requires to provide consumers with information about compostability. It also aims to encourage industry to change production methods, notably through broadening of the EPR scheme and creation of a bonus system that rewards producers for designing environmentally friendly products. The Law against food waste sets five priorities to reduce food waste: prevention, transformation or donation of unsold articles, upcycling into fodder, composting or methanisation. 

Circular economy strategy

The national Roadmap for circular economy was adopted in 2018. It contains five main objectives: 

  • 30% reduction of resource use and consumption by 2030 
  • 50% reduction of non-hazardous waste in landfills by 2025 
  • 100% recycling of plastic waste by 2025 
  • reduction of GHG emissions through plastic waste recycling 
  • creation of 300 000 new jobs 


Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

France is known internationally as a leader on EPR. EPR schemes cover a total of 20 in 15 sectors, including those required by EU directives and two voluntary ones. France is the only country to date to implement an EPR policy for end‐of‐use clothing, linen and shoes. The policy has contributed to a 150% increase in the collection rate of post‐consumer textiles since 2007, which is estimated to be about 35% of all textile waste generated in France.

We see three priority areas when it comes to circular economy opportunities and need: textiles & fashion, plastics and agriculture

Dutch Embassy in Paris

Textiles and fashion

French-Dutch cooperation might open up great opportunities for making the industry more sustainable and circular. Fashion is one of the French hallmarks and the sector that excels in fundamental research on textile and material development. The Netherlands is advanced in applied research, chemical recycling, biobased materials, design thinking and has a strong collaborative approach. Combining strengths of both countries could accelerate the transition to a sustainable fashion industry.

The French textile sector has already in great part shifted its production to technical textiles and the interest in new technologies motivated by the prospects for creating economic and environmental sustainability is growing. In 2019 France has initiated Fashion Pact which was signed by 30 leading fashion houses, representing 147 brands, that vowed to pursue common sustainability goals. Among the areas for potential cooperation are circular value chain, sustainable and biotech materials, the knowledge area which is seen by fashion brands and luxury conglomerates as having a high potential.


Both France and the Netherlands set ambitious national targets for plastics recycling and initiated the European Plastics Pact. Still, for the French waste management recycling of plastic packaging represents one of the major challenges: in 2018 only about 26% of this type of waste was recycled.

The ongoing Corona crisis is exacerbating the problem causing huge increase in use of single use plastics and decreasing recycling rates of packaging due to decline in oil price. Chemical recycling is seen by a number of French companies including Total, Nestlé and Mars as one of the solutions to achieve the goal of having 100% plastic waste being recycled by 2025. Complimentarily, chemical industry is one of the Dutch top sectors, which might open opportunities for the French-Dutch collaboration in this area since Dutch expertise could offer support for French waste management initiatives in attaining the target. 


France is the largest agrofood producer of the EU and the sixth largest exporter of agrofood in the world. France, with a share of 9%, is one of the major export markets for Dutch agrofood and high quality and sustainable products, technologies and knowledge.

There is potential for French-Dutch cooperation and knowledge exchange in the field of AgTech, precision farming and circular agriculture, as France has a strategy for circular agriculture, like the Netherlands. Among the areas where cooperation between the countries could be especially mutually beneficial are innovations for livestock farming and horticulture. Also, even though agricultural cooperatives represent the majority of the farmers in France, there is also a strong start-up ecosystem which is open to international cooperation.

Building and construction

French legislation sets targets for the energy efficiency performance in buildings which can offer opportunities for the Dutch-French collaboration in circular building/smart building industry. Dutch knowledge and technologies for energy efficient and circular building could support French construction industry in attaining these targets. Possibly this could be complemented with expertise in circular design in which the Netherlands excels, as well as in the application of alternative materials in construction and the material passports in relation to the internet of things and blockchain.

Major upcoming events

See also related items below.

Relevant networks

Circular Economy think tanks/research institutes   

  • INEC (Institut National de l’Économie Circulaire)
  • Orée (Holland Circular Hotspot partner) 
  • ADEME (l’Agence de la transition écologique)


Business networks