In France, the circular economy is going back to school

Posted on 02 September 2016.

From September 1 to October 19, 2016, the publisher Belin and Veolia are offering to collect and recycle old textbooks in schools and so raise funds for UNICEF France.

Every year in France, it's the same ritual: in early September, hordes of parents flock to specialist bookstores to buy their offspring dozens of used textbooks. In a lively atmosphere, everyone waits their turn hoping to get copies that are not too faded or damaged. This year however, the education reform will upset this previously unchanging ritual. For the first time ever, the programs for 4 high school years will change at the same, leading to a major change in textbooks. Result: more than 10 million new books in print, and as many obsolete ones thrown out...

To avoid this enormous amount of waste, Belin and Veolia are launching Écogeste Collèges 2016, a huge operation involving collecting and recycling old textbooks - whatever their publisher - from high schools in mainland France. To participate, schools can simply register on the dedicated website until September 30; a bin will be installed in the establishment. Used textbooks will be discarded there, and families will also be able to throw out any other old books, notebooks, newspapers and magazines they may have. Between September 1 and October 19, Veolia will collect all these books and any used paper. It will then all be quality sorted in the Group's sorting centers and transformed into new raw materials that will feed the paper mills producing recycled paper… to make more books!

Besides being environmentally friendly, the Écogeste Collèges 2016 operation also has an educational goal. It’s a great opportunity to educate students and their families about ecology, and in particular the circular economy, through practical actions. Educational materials will be made available to teachers to help them talk about it with their students...

The Écogeste Collèges 2016 campaign is public-spirited. All the revenue will be donated to UNICEF France to fund its work for children.

Through this solution, Belin and Veolia hope to give a new lease of life to tons of obsolete textbooks, and at the same time demonstrate to students the tremendous power of the circular economy – which turns waste into a new resource.