Paris: Trends to a Circular Economy


Presentation written by:

Audrey CUINAT,

Baptiste DELLERIE,

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU,



Paris has not been made in one day and the story of its power resides in many ways in the power of its history. The history of this city is rich, ancient and modern. A metropolis born of the past, it is part of the present, and is turned towards the future.

Paris, as everybody knows, is the capital of France. This city is an attractive city for many reasons: the gastronomy, the wine, the fashion industry, for monuments, etc.

This city is the administrative center of the region of Paris and the surrounding area. It is also the only French municipality which is in the same time a department. Moreover, it is the city the most populated in France with more than 2 200 000 inhabitants. It is the 4th among the European urban areas behind Moscow, Istanbul and London. And if we look at the world’s level, it is the 29th most popular city in the world. And it is also the city the most densely in Europe.

The corporate social responsibility is for a company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment ecological and social in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship thanks to their waste and pollution reduction processes, by contributing educational and social programs, and by earning adequate returns on the employed resources. This principle can also apply to a city. For that, it is necessary to focus on the environmental aspect of the city and its social impact to see how Paris can improve all of its problems. That is why we chose to present you the social responsibility of the city of Paris.

Even if, Paris is the city the most visited to the world for its monuments, its gastronomy and its reputation for the world of the fashion. Paris remains nevertheless a metropolis with its various concerns, environmental and social.


PART 1: The Environment Aspect

Air pollution

Gradually of the years, Paris has improved its publics politics especially on the field of the economic development, the solidarity, the circular economy or the environment and its preservation.

As all the metropolises of the world, Paris undergoes environmental consequences.

The list of Paris’ environmental problem is very long: atmospheric pollution, waste treatment, pollution of the Seine, the drinking water and the waste water, the spaces greens, flora and fauna and general cleanliness of the city.

The main causes

One of the biggest problem of our beautiful capital is the air pollution. It is a problem of public health. This pollution is linked in a big part to the transports and polluting industries situate in the peripheric of Paris. But this kind of industry is less and less present.

In this way, the air of Paris is contaminated by the different pollutants gaseous, liquid or solid from a natural origin like for example, some emissions by the ocean, the volcano, the vegetations or other pollutants from some human activities, for example the exhaust pipe of the cars and lorries, the factory’s smokestack, etc.

We can make out two big families of pollutants: the primaries and the secondaries.

The first group is the pollutant from the pollution and it is directly release to the air as for example the pollution of the traffic jam, the industry, the agriculture, etc.

The second group of pollutant, as indicated by its name, is not directly release to the nature. In fact, these pollutants are due to their reactions between us.


The main consequence of this air pollution is its effects of the health. The different pollutants of the atmosphere are aggressive and irritating particles which go in lung. Eventually, that can create some breathing and cardiac problems. Concretely, the air pollution causes an increase of the breathing infections.

In period of a big crisis, patients who have some breathing problems like for example the asthmatic person must pay more attention, that is recommend to them to avoid sport and making an intensive effort like running. However, the confinement is not a measure recommended by the health organism. It is necessary to find a happy medium and sometimes, some Parisians who are very sick, have the only choice to move in another city less polluting.

The pollution is more present in summer et on the big trunk road. It exists a paradox fact which is a car driver suffer twice more of the pollution inside of his car than a pedestrian or a cyclist. This is why, its recommended to take the public transport.

Solutions to reduce the air pollution

The city of Paris implements some measures to reduce the air pollution.

The first is “Airparif”, it is a polluted air monitoring device has been in place since 1979. It is an association approved by the Ministry of Ecology which has an annual budget of 8.5 million euros and its hires 65 employees. Airparif’s mission is to provide everyday the quality of the air and it is also to diffuse results on their website.

But this association has other missions as for example, in case of pollution episode, Airparif participates in the alert system which is establishmented by the prefects of Île-de-France.

So, the association aims are to understand pollution phenomenon and to evaluate some strategies established to fight against the air pollution.

To realise its missions, Airparif use 74 stations of measures including 58 automatics for a total of 137 measuring devices that operate 7 days a week. Airparif has more than 6 million points of sensor to map the entire Île-de-France. All these sensors are installed along the main roads and in suburban areas. They permit to continual measure about sixty pollutants.

Moreover, when Airparif detect a high level of pollution, the Prefecture of the Police immediately trigger the public information procedure. In this way, for the car driver, it is recommended to have a driving more flexible, to limit the use of their diesel cars and to reduce their speed in Île-de-France. For example, the maximum speed allowed on the highways pass from 130 kilometers per hours at 110 kilometers per hours. Heavy trucks have to get around Paris. If the pollution persists too much, the regional council can decide to make public transport free the time necessary to decrease the pollution.

Another measure taken to reduce the air pollution is alternating traffic. In the case of a long period of higher pollution, vehicles with odd number can only drive on only days and vice versa for the vehicles with peer registration. However, it does concern vehicles called vehicles-clean, carpools and general interest vehicles like buses, taxis and cars driving school.


Sustainable development

Sustainable development reports

Sustainable development is a term that appeared in the scientific literature in the 1980s. But, the first publication of the term to the public is in 1987 in the report called “Our Common Future” of the World Commission for the development and the environment.

Sustainable development is based on three pillars: social, ecological and economy. It is a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In this way, each year, the city of Paris published a report on the sustainable development. This report shows what the city of Paris does for sustainable development. From now on, Paris is one of the reference cities in terms of “city of tomorrow”. This is due to the reception of COP21 in 2015, which will be discussed in the next part.

The actions of the city

About the point of view of the energy, Parisian heating uses now more than 50% renewables energy and recovery. This is possible thanks to the use of new renewable energies such as biomass and liquid biofuel as well as the production of energy and heat through the combustion of household waste. These new devices have halved CO2 emissions since 2000.

In addition, public lighting in the city of Paris has been reduced by 27% thanks to the use of LEDs which consume much less than standard lighting. Without forgetting that more than 400 standard lights were replaced, in particular in the green spaces by balls lights which are less polluting.


To improve the traffic and the pollution in Paris in a sustainable way, the city is setting up new means of travel. After “Autolib” and “Velib”, Parisians can now move with the services of Cityscoot or shared vehicles with electric engines.

More than 90% of Parisian apartment blocks we built in 1960’s, it is to say before the first thermal regulation. That is why apartment blocks use a lot of energy. Therefore, Paris want to do an eco-renovation of 1 000 privates apartments blocks within 2020. In addition, the city launched a major project to help condominiums to carry out eco-renovation projects. The scale of the project is such that it is the only one in Europe of this size.


III. The COP21 in 2015

The stakes of this COP


A COP is a gathering of 194 states members of the Climate Convention. The aim is to negotiate and adopt decisions and make sure of their follow-up. A COP lasts an average two weeks. Since 1997, there has been a COP all the end of the year except one year there was a COP “bis” because all the decisions could not be taken due to a lack of time and agreement of all the participants.

We will focus on the COP21 that took place in France in November and December in 2015 at Paris.

The main objective of the COP21 was an environmental and ecological objective. It was about maintaining global warming at only + 2°C in order to preserve sustainable living conditions on Earth.

The COP21 was announced as a historic event and there were more than 30 000 participants, including more than 150 heads of state or government, which were up to the challenge that COP21 represented after the failure of the Copenhagen Conference in 2009. So, one of the main challenges of this COP was to reach agreement between the almost “200” members.

However, blocks of countries have been formed and each one is defending its own interests, which further complicates decision-making. Decisions are made through votes: a state equals one vote. In this way, small countries have a great interest in joining groups to gain more weight in final decisions.


At the end of this COP21, the member states should adopt an international climate agreement that would succeed to the Kyoto Protocol.

  1. The results obtained and the way

During this COP21, the different countries members decided to focus on three main objectives through the Paris agreement: to maintain at 2°C the increase of temperatures within 2050, to work on the adaptation of each climate change especially through the use of “low carbon”, and the last is to adopt financing methods that make it possible to achieve the previous objectives.

The goal of this agreement is to have as soon as possible a climate neutrality, that means to not use more CO2 than the Earth is able to produce.

To achieve its objectives, the Paris Agreement doesn’t cite a very precise figure but hope that for the voluntary contribution of States through a general awareness.

However, one cannot ask the same thing about a developed country as a developing country. Therefore, in a first way, developed countries have to decrease their emissions greenhouse gas as soon as possible.

Developing countries will also have to reduce their consumption, but it is normal to give them more time because to become developed countries, they need coal.

On the financing side, the Paris Agreement provides financial assistance from developed countries to developing countries. But once again, the numbers are not given.

In this way, we can clearly see the separation of developed countries from those in development. Developed countries have more responsibilities for climate change.

It is possible to say that the COP1 is a success because that mark the consciences and many countries are more involved in the fight for the climate, even if some countries as the United States has been withdrawn from the agreement.

The fact that Paris is the host city for such an event is beneficial and shows to the worlds that Paris is involved and wants to act for the environment.


IV. The circular economy in Paris


The circular economy was inspired by the green economy and the social and solidarity economy. The objective of this economy is to produce goods and services in a long-lasting way. That is by limiting the consumption and the waste of resources like raw materials, water, energy, etc. One of the basics principles is the reduction of waste by recycling or by reutilizing the old objects.

From the ecological point of view, we saw that this economy has an important impact on the climate because it can decrease more than 14% total of the emission of waste annual in Europe.

Moreover, that creates employment especially in the “Grand Paris” where 50 000 employments were create. The local council of Paris wants to focus on the circular economy for its environmental aspect but also for the social aspect.

Some actions of the city

The first action of the city is to reuse. There are lots of initiatives that permit to reuse the object rather than throw the object at the bin.

Some examples of what the city do to reuse:

  • Reuse of parka

Some parkas of agent were not adapted now it was its was redistribute for the homeless person.

  • Food

It exists a big part of the food sold which is not consume and that begin waste. Therefore, it exists now an association: “tente des glaneurs” installed on the market at Joinville in the 19th arrondissement in Paris. They collected the food not consume beside storekeeper and redistribute that food at people in need each Sunday.

Some examples of what the city do to recycling:

  • Arrangement of the sail-loft

During the arrangement of the sail-loft, the cobblestones are cleaning, classifying and sometimes transform to be again put in place. This is a recycling intern of the city of Paris.

  • Maintenance of the green space

In all the city and in the wood of Vincennes, the old or sick trees are cut. Small wood shavings are obtaining, and they are reuse in the feet of the big trees to avoid the regrowth of weed. Furthermore, it reduces the need for the tree in water.


PART 2: The Social Aspect

To lead a corporate social responsibility policy for a city as Paris mean to improve the social aspect of the city. But what does it mean?

The main concept of Corporate Social Responsibility rests on the fact that each action can help and improve the life of other people. With this aim in mind, the city of Paris tries to develop a new way to think: develop economically the city while increasing the global satisfaction of all actors.   After a study of Population & Avenir’s review, it shows that the city of Paris loses 0,49% of this population each year[1] while many cities as Lyon, or Bordeaux for example earn inhabitants. Nowadays, the city of Paris is not an attractive city for its inhabitant. In fact, Paris is an attractive city for travelers and tourists, but for its inhabitant, to live in Paris is not as pleasant to live as you can think. Traffic jam, pollution, the incessant flows of tourist, the permanent noise, and other many things make life difficult.

It is why the city of Paris and its mayor, Anne Hildalgo try to improve the living conditions.

First, you are going to study the alternatives put in place by the inhabitants themselves of the city through circular economy to find alternative to the actual constraints of the city.

Then, we will study a project of pedestrianization of the city. This example will illustrate the effort of the city to develop pleasant area for inhabitants while keeping in mind the high necessity to develop economically the city.

Finally, as every capitale, Paris is a city that never sleep. In consequence, 2,2 billion of people, or 19% of the population of the Paris region, are potentially exposed to noise on the front of their homes that exceed the limit values. How the city of Paris controls the noise without harming the activity of the city?

Social interactions and community creation: the benefits of the circular economy

Benefits of circular economy

First of all, with a social point of view, circular economy is a very good way to develop the local economy. In fact, consumer will prefer to buy local product, in a small shop, just next to their home than a generic product which come from china for example. This local consumption will also create many jobs. A recent study from the website of city of Paris shows that to set a circular economy can create more than 50 000 new jobs in the metropole[2].

Another benefit of this kind of economy is the creation of social links between inhabitants. Actually, the new technology of communication as social network can be used in favor of circular economy. Many websites as Fab-labs for example, used internet to bring closer people.

  1. The actions of the city of Paris

In Paris, many actions have been put in place for years in favour of a circular economy. In 2015, the city of Paris and its mayor lunch the first General States of the circular economy. These general states gathered different actors as companies, associations, the academic world and many politics and personalities. Concretely, we will see different examples of what the city of Paris has done for the last years.

In 1999, a period of hard cold was in Paris. The weather was very difficult. So, the city of Paris ordered a large quantity of parka to equip municipal employees. Today, the parkas no longer respond the specifics of agents’ tasks. So, rather than throwing them away, it was distributed to homeless and associative partners.

Another example is the creation of “La Tente des Glaneurs”. Put in place in the market of Joinville, this installation allows the city of Paris to collect the products which are not sell. Then, the city of Paris rocks the distribution of this food to people who need it.

Finally, a good example of the effort of the city of Paris, is the creation of a Fab-Labs. A Fab-labs is a place open to the public where it is put at its disposal all kind of tools, including computer of specific machine tools. The aim of this installation is to promote recycling and the fact that it is preferable to repair old object rather than to throw it.

  1. The pedestrianization of the right lane on bank
  2. The aim

In 2016, Anne Hidalgo took the decision to close the right lane on bank. This decision include that no cars cannot circulate on this road which allow to cross Paris quickly. The main goal of this decision was in fact to reduce to air pollution of the city. The town hall wanted to reduce the number of cars in the city while increasing the number of users of public transport. Furthermore, another aim of this decision was to create a pleasant place for Paris’s inhabitant. Actually, Anne Hildalgo created an urban park in this road. She wants to create “a pleasant place where everybody can come and enjoy the beauty of the city”.

  1. New installation

A vast area of 8 hectares, a UNESCO world heritage site, is now dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists. On the right bank, developments have already “flowered”, according to the City: a multisport ground sheltered at the exit of the Tuileries tunnel, a mini-football field in the square Federico-Garcia-Lorca. Younger guests can have fun with two climbing walls, on a 40 m course littered with tree stumps and in a “world of docks” with labyrinth. Cyclists will also be able to repair their bikes in workshops downstream from the Arcole bridge. Between summer 2017 and spring 2018, two restaurants, will be open.

Moreover, the city of Paris wants to organise different concerts and festivals. The town hall wants to create a place of culture and entertainment.

However, the tribunal of Paris break the decision of Anne Hidalgo and has ordered to open again the right bank for one month. So, a duel between the justice and the town hall of Paris has started. Today, no one can say if the road will stay close or open…

  1. The city of Paris against the noise
  2. Consequences of noise

According to a survey conducted in 2014 by IFOP for the Ministry of Ecology of Sustainable Development and Energy, 82% of French people are concerned about noise issues and 45% say they are quite or very embarrassed at home by noise. The report shows that in Europe, “noise in the environment” causes at least 10,000 premature deaths each year, annoys 20 million adults, causes sleep disorders in 8 million of them and causes more than 900 000 cases of hypertension and 43 000 hospitalizations[3].

The main source of noise in the environment is road traffic, with more than 125 million Europeans exposed to thresholds in excess of 55 decibels (noise indicator associated with discomfort over a whole day).

For the city of Paris, a recent survey from BruitParifs[4] show than more than 200 000 inhabitants of the city are directly impacted by noise above the threshold limit.

  1. Plan of action of the city

The city of Paris has put in place since 2006 five main actions against noise in the city.

The first one is the introduction of bus lanes. In Fact, it has led to a reduction in the number of general traffic. An impact study on the Mobilien 27 line showed an acoustic gain of 2.2 dB during the day and 3.9 dB at night.

Secondly, the development of civilized spaces has also led to a decrease in the level of noise on these structural axes. Actually, for example the city of Paris has reduced the limit speed at 70 km/h.

Then, 36 developed neighborhoods have been created to promote the smooth traffic and improve the quality of life of residents including the limitation of speed to 30 km/h.

Finally, the city closed as we see before some roads to reduce the pollution but also the noise. The city created also different “Areas with pedestrian priority” to reduce the traffic next to the main living quarters.


As we see, the environmental and social issues of the city of Paris are wide. Through COP 21, the city of Paris has a great deal of responsibility in the global evolution of sustainable development. In addition, locally, the inhabitants of the city need changes. Although Paris remains an emblematic city, its attractiveness decreases gradually. The French Government, the Ile-de-France region and the town hall are struggling and trying to improve the living conditions of the city. Nevertheless, the task remains wide and many difficulties appear for the local population to change their lifestyle.



Annex 1: Attractiveness of the city of Paris in 2016 by the review Population & Avenir.

Annex 2: Part of the report of BruitParifs in 2015

  1. Please refer to annex 1: Attractiveness of the city of Paris in 2016 by the review Population & Avenir. Page 12.
  3. According to the noise assessment report published by the European Environment Agency in December 2014
  4. Please, refer to annex 2: Part of the rapport of BruitParifs. Page 14.