Circular Economy Series #13: Centre – Val de Loire

C is for… circularity, cosmetics, and Centre – Val de Loire ! It is time for the second to last blog about circular economy in the French metropolitan regions. You can find them all here.

This blog is written by the Embassy of the Netherlands in France and explains the opportunities for Dutch organisations in France in the field of circular economy.

Centre-Val de Loire in numbers

  • 2.5 million inhabitants (in 2019)
    • Or 3.8% of the national population
  • 39,151 km2 surface area
  • 71.4 billion € GDP (in 2016)

Key economic sectors

  • Cosmetics and pharmaceuticals
  • Plastics and rubber industry
  • Electronics

Regional economy

Centre-Val de Loire is a small region and with 65.7 inhabitants per km² the a population density is less than half of the national average. Still, the region’s good transportation infrastructure and its close proximity to Paris and the Ile-de-France region boost the local economy. It is an attractive location for the logistics sector and sub-contractors for the car industry. Other important sectors include plastics (with the cluster Elastopôle at its center), plant science (Vegepolys), biotech and healthcare (Atlanpole Biotherapies) and water tech (Aqua Valley).

A circular plastics system is needed to prevent further pollution of our environment and sea life in particular. Elastopole, the inter-regional cluster for plastics, polymers and rubber, was founded in 2008 and has 120 company members (including big groups such as: Michelin, Hutchinson, Plastic Omnium, Mecaplast, Faurecia). Aside from connection stakeholders to accelerate innovation, the cluster also works on sustainability issues, such as the development of eco-design principles (i.e. designing out waste and pollution at the before production).

Let’s take a closer look at the cosmetics industry in the region. Public and private stakeholders collaborate in the competitiveness cluster: Cosmetic Valley. The cluster unites 3,200 companies (80% SMEs), universities, laboratories and public organisations. They represent all the stages of the production process, from plant cultivation to the distribution of care and hygiene products, make up and perfume. In total, the cluster invest 650 million euros a year in R&D.

Sustainable development of the cosmetics industry is a strategic issue. According to a study carried out in 2018 by Harris Interactive for the Cetelem Observatory, 58% of French people are willing to pay more for an eco-responsible product. Natural ingredients and zero-waste packaging are becoming more popular. Big groups like L’Oréal have committed to fighting plastic pollution by signing the new commitment proposed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

La Bouche Rouge

Moreover, in Saint-Jean-de-Braye the fashion and luxury goods house LVMH owns the largest R&D center in Europe dedicated for cosmetics, called Hélios. When it comes to innovation and waste management, young brands are often one step ahead. Take for example La Bouche Rouge, which offers high-end lipsticks sold in refillable and therefore reusable leather packaging. The concept was so attractive that the LVMH group is now housing the brand in the Hélios facility.

To accelerate and unite the cosmetic industry around sustainability, the Cosmetic Valley founded the Platform IMPACT+ to work together on solutions for issues of supply, storage, waste and sustainable sourcing. IMPACT+ facilitates collective projects on optimizing material flows and reducing waste. Their objectives are:

(1) Optimize the turnover of companies’ stocks;

(2) Offer an alternative solution to minimum orders and bulk purchasing;

(3) Reduce storage and fight against the destruction of unused cosmetic raw materials;

(4) Obtain supplies quickly in the event of stock shortage or exceptionally long lead times.

In short, the IMPACT+ platform facilitates the trade of excess raw materials and packaging for cosmetics brands, laboratories, manufacturers, suppliers of raw materials and packaging. One step closer to a circular cosmetics industry!

Circular economy

Centre-Val de Loire is looking to add value to its production of raw materials, e.g. from agricultural and forestry activities, and valorizing waste to embrace the circular economy. But what are the challenges?

  • The bulk of the waste from the region comes from construction and infrastructure projects (BTP, 73%), followed by household and similar waste (14%), non-hazardous waste from economic activities (11%) and hazardous waste (2%).
  • Recycling capacity for certain types of waste (construction, bio-waste, waste from economic activities) are still to be developed.
  • There is a need for regional structuring, such as: strengthening of the network of circular stakeholders, need for monitoring, need for coordination with other stakeholders.
  • Awareness needs to be raised among all audiences about waste prevention and the circular economy.

In accordance with the 2015-2020 agreement between state and region, the French government, ADEME and the Center-Val de Loire Region form a partnership to accelerate the development of the circular economy in the region. In February 2019, the region published its Circular Economy Roadmap for the years 2019 and 2020. Currently, the most important priorities for the region are:

  1. Prevention of waste:
    1. Incentive Pricing: to encourage consumers to change their behavior by increasing sorting and reducing their quantities of household waste.
    1. Re-use / Repair / Refurbishing
  2. Recovery of organic waste:
    1. Sorting bio-waste
    1. Methanisation
  3. Recycling:
    1. Construction waste
    1. Plastic recycling
  4. Mobilizing all stakeholders:
    1. Industrial ecology
    1. Products-as-a-service
    1. Eco-design

Overview of recycling capacity in the region

  • 255 waste treatment centers
  • 275 repair or recycling facilities
  • 34 compost facilities
  • 24 methanisation facilities

Regional best practices

Circular cosmetics

As you could read above, sustainable cosmetics are very popular in France. Which circular businesses are leaders in this field? (1) Lamazuna focuses on zero waste cosmetics. Their deodorants, shampoos and toothpastes are sold in solid format, so no extra packaging is needed. (2) In the perfume sector, the brand Etat Libre d’Orange, recently launched “I am a Trash, the flowers of waste”, a fragrance made from waste of a perfume factory. (3) And the big brands are shifting towards sustainable products too, like Chanel. Chanel acquired a stake in Sulapac, a Finnish start-up which fights against plastic pollution by developing packaging which is not only recyclable, but also biodegradable in a marine environment.

Etat Libre d’Orange

One family, zero trash

One family, one trash bin of 15 liter per month; how is that possible? Meet la famille Zero-Déchet. For five years now, Jérémie Pichon, Bénédicte Moret and their two children have made the choice to live without (almost) any garbage. On their blog, in their book and at conferences, they explain that it is possible to change everyday behavior. They inspire other’s to live a life without (or with less) waste, for example by sharing their recipes to make your own toothpaste or telling the story how Bob joined their family. Bob is a glass jar which holds a year of the family’s waste!

Source: Sud Ouest

Trash is out of fashion

Old clothing should never be thrown away, but what can we do with it instead? In Orléans, 168 collection points exist to facilitate the reuse and recycling of unused clothing, shoes and household linen. Thanks to this service, more than 1000 tonnes of textiles escaped the trash bin in 2017! The city of Orléans started this project back in 2013 by structuring a local textile reuse sector and put the association Le Tremplin at the heart of it. The association employs nearly 70 people to ensure:

  • collection of textiles left by the city’s residents
  • sorting of textiles by quality level, season, size, type, etc….
  • resale of the finest pieces in the local “Des habits et moi” stores in Orleans and Saint Jean de Braye
  • shipment of second-choice parts to the international re-use market or to the recycling market (where recycled textile fibers are mostly used to manufacture insulation products).

Contact us

Curious how you could expand your circular business or innovation projects to France? If you have any questions how to expand from the Netherlands into a French region, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency ( and the Embassy of the Netherlands in France are here for you. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sources: European Commission Regional Innovation Monitor, Cosmetics Valley, Dev Up Centre Val de Loire