The BRGM takes up the challenge of urban waste recycling

The BRGM's commitment to environmental protection dates back to the 1970s, when Claude Guillemin asked for a new experimental waste recycling facility to be built. As the BRGM's director at the time, he was already anticipating the issues we are facing today.

Déch ets électriques et électroniques dans les années 1970. © BRGM - F. Michel.
Electrical and electronic waste in the 1970s. © BRGM - François Michel.

Activities geared to environmental protection started in the 1970s with studies of landfill sites for domestic and industrial waste. The particularly thorny problem of the Montchanin site in eastern France was the country's first example of a hazardous waste (Class 1) landfill. It was closed down by decree in 1988 in a context of crisis. The BRGM was quick to take an interest in recycling and resource-saving. In 1974, Claude Guillemin made the decision to build a new experimental facility for urban waste sorting and recycling.

Le centre d’essais environnementaux du BRGM, en 2000 (Orléans, Loiret). © BRGM
BRGM's environmental test centre, in 2000 (Orléans, Loiret).

Claude Guillemin, a man ahead of his time

As early as 1974, Claude Guillemin had identified issues arising from the overconsumption of materials and resources. His concern was already for what is now a highly topical issue: the circular economy. He believed that recycling and separating out reusable materials would be one way of remedying the effects of 1970s overconsumption. His view was that growth should be about quality, not quantity.

1974: Claude Guillemin, Director of the National Geological Survey at BRGM, on recycling

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