City of Circular Economy
Location: Haut de Seine (92)
Sector : Agriculture, End of life
Date of creation: environmental projects have existed for more than 10 years
Date of analysis: July 2020
Maturité du projet : pérenne
The city of Meudon, or how a municipality succeeded in bringing the countryside back to the city center.
Following our meeting with Bergeries en Ville, we had the chance to meet the environmental director of the City of Meudon and his entire team to discuss their partnership with the association and their many projects around circular economy.
Located in the Hauts-de-Seine region between Versailles and Paris, Meudon is a town of 46,000 inhabitants, 50% of whose territory is occupied by the Meudon State Forest. Rich in green spaces, the city has many parks, gardens and squares available to its inhabitants. All year round, the city’s gardeners maintain 32 hectares of green spaces along the streets, on roundabouts and at the foot of trees.
The city has been developing several projects around circular economy for about ten years now, with the aim of making life in Meudon more pleasant for its inhabitants.
The city of Meudon has developed several projects around circular economy based on several pillars :
Thanks to the development of 3 urban vegetable and garden projects, the inhabitants of Meudon have the possibility to maintain their own plot of land in town. A set of specifications drawn up by the town hall prohibits the use of phytosanitary products guaranteeing the production of fruit and vegetables that are healthy for man and the environment by the people of Meudon. The association le Jardin d’Amélie educates the inhabitants to produce in a responsible and sustainable way thanks to its permaculture garden in the park of the Potager du Dauphin.
Thanks to its partnership with Bergeries en Ville, Meudon maintains part of its green spaces in eco-grazing. This service enables the town council to set up a more ecological alternative to the mechanical and chemical maintenance of green spaces.
For more information on the economy of functionality, click here to access the Bergeries en Ville article.
Thanks to numerous waste recovery projects (bio-waste, cigarette butts, etc.), Meudon is reducing its environmental impact as well as that of its inhabitants. Thanks in particular to the Zero Waste Families Challenge, the town has succeeded in a fun way in promoting good practices to reduce waste production in households as much as possible.
The Town Hall is committed to making the town of Meudon more ecological and more pleasant for its inhabitants.
Since 2012, it has notably created a partnership with Bergeries en Ville to maintain part of its green spaces through eco-grazing (natural mowing of green spaces with sheep and goats). For more details on this project: click here.
Marie from Bergeries en Ville and her sheep on a plot of land in the city of Meudon
The city is committed to offering sustainable supply and responsible consumption to its inhabitants through the development of several projects of vegetable gardens and shared gardens:
Since 2015, the town has made plots of land of 10 m² available to families from the town to cultivate them. In September, 20 new plots will be available. There are already more than 400 requests…
Thus, apartment dwellers who wish to have their own vegetable garden have the possibility to do so. They are notably accompanied and advised by Marie, founder of Bergeries en Ville, to ensure the success of their plantations!
The Meudonnais kitchen gardens, consisting of around twenty plots of land
The association le Jardin d’Amélie takes care of a public space to cultivate in permaculture. It also organizes training and workshops on registration for all ages. This shared space allows to create social links between curious inhabitants.
Le Jardin d’Amélie located in the park Le potager du Dauphin in Meudon
The “Garden My City” project
For the past two years, private individuals have been able to reclaim public plots of land close to their homes to maintain them. For example, small kitchen gardens on a 100-metre driveway or at the foot of trees have been installed.
This allows people without a garden to have a space for their kitchen garden. On the other hand, delegating the maintenance of certain plots to the inhabitants saves maintenance time for the city gardeners.
Gardeners can regularly check that these spaces are well maintained. A charter is signed by the inhabitants who recover the spaces to be cultivated and commit themselves to follow a list of authorized plants and not to use phytosanitary and chemical products.
These projects are intended to bring the countryside back to the city. The strong demand from the people of Meudon to acquire a plot of land or a piece of public space for their personal maintenance shows that these projects are a real success. They have environmental benefits (increased biodiversity, less waste dumped in green spaces, etc.), social benefits (more pleasant neighbourhoods, social links created through shared gardens, etc.) and economic benefits (the town hall enables two associations to operate and saves money by delegating the maintenance of certain green spaces to these inhabitants).
The city of Meudon has implemented several strategies to reduce the amount of waste produced by its inhabitants and to recover as much as possible the waste generated by the whole city.
In order to reduce the quantity of bio-waste incinerated and to allow economic gains for the town hall, linked to the cost of waste collection and management, the town of Meudon has been distributing free composters and vermicomposters for about ten years within co-properties. Thanks to its partners le Jardin d’Amélie and GPSO (Grand Paris Seine Ouest), the town council is helping residents to acquire the necessary skills to maintain their compost independently.
The city of Meudon has developed several means to valorise the green matter generated during the maintenance of green spaces. This makes it possible to reduce the amount of bulky bio-waste sent to the waste disposal centre, which is both a time-saver and an economic advantage for the town council.
The plants cut by the city gardeners (branches, hedges, etc.) are shredded on site and used as mulch.
Some trees in the forest of Meudon have molecules in their leaves that are of interest for cancer research. During their maintenance, members of the association “Collect-If’ ” come to collect the leaves of Yew trees in order to extract these molecules and study them.
Aging or dead trees are transformed into totem poles, if they do not pose a risk to the population, and serve as an ecological niche for insects and birds.
Meudon is known as the former washhouse of Paris. Thanks to its quarries of blanc de Meudon (chalk rich in calcium carbonate), the town became a famous place for laundering the sheets of the great Parisian hotels in the 18th century.
Today, the quarries are closed to the public because they have become too dangerous, and runoff water must be pumped to keep the quarries dry and avoid collapses. Rather than putting this water into the sewer, the town hall of Meudon uses it for city gardening and tree care. This makes it possible to limit the use of drinking water for an activity that does not require it and to recover water that would otherwise have been lost.
The Quarries of Meudon, a non-drinkable water reserve for the management of green spaces
Over the past year, nudge ashtrays have been installed in 36 municipal buildings in the city, including 2 high schools. These ashtrays, by asking playful or environmental questions, encourage smokers to throw their cigarette butts into the ashtrays rather than on the ground.
The ashtrays are emptied every 3 to 4 months and the cigarette butts are sent to a company in Brest, méGO! which recycles the filters into street furniture.
The project has very encouraging results since the quantity of butts collected in the nudge ashtrays has doubled in only 4 months (7.5 kg in September 2019 and 13 kg in January)! About 35 kg of cigarette butts have already been collected(it is estimated that one kilogram is equal to about 2,000 cigarette butts cf. greenminded), i.e. a total of 70,000 cigarette butts.Knowing that one cigarette butt pollutes 500 L of water, the city of Meudon has saved the equivalent of 10 olympic pools in just 4 months !
Meudon’s ambition is to become a zero cigarette butt city. It plans to install new nudging ashtrays in the market areas and to develop the concept among traders and businesses. In addition to the fact that this project has environmental benefits and improves the cleanliness of the town, it also saves on the treatment of water that is more or less unpolluted by the cigarette butts that end up in the sewers and sewage systems.
An ashtray installed at the Les Côtes de Villebon high school, made from old mailboxes
Zero Waste Family Challenge
In June 2019, the city of Meudon offered a hundred or so people the chance to take part in the Zero Waste Family Challenge. For 3 months, each family had to weigh their waste, without changing their habits. Starting in September, the families received zero waste kits and followed training sessions to learn all the tips to reduce their waste production.
Families regularly monitored their results by weighing their bins and filling in an excel table. Result: the challenge was met with flying colours!
This challenge has been a revelation for many families: in addition to the reduction in waste, families have changed their lifestyles overall. Many have begun to spend more time together as a family, make more responsible choices in their shopping, cook more and consume healthier products. Families have also found that the proportion of bio-waste in their trash is increasing in comparison to plastic packaging and cardboard and other single-use plastic products.
This project organised by the town hall is a great inspiration to be followed by all the inhabitants of the town.
The environmental benefits are multiple:
Thanks to the shared kitchen gardens and gardens, the Town Hall saves time in the management of these green spaces, which allows for reductions in expenses.
With the implementation of the Zero Waste Family Challenge, the city of Meudon wishes to reduce the overall waste production of its inhabitants, which would allow for a reduction in the cost of waste collection and management.
By wishing to bring the countryside back to the city and by setting up circular economy projects, the city of Meudon has set up a partnership with two associations (Bergeries en Ville and le Jardin d’Amélie) which can thus make a living from their activities.
With access to gardens or kitchen gardens, the inhabitants of Meudon can grow their own fruit and vegetables themselves, right in the heart of the city. This type of project helps to create social links since the gardening sites are common spaces to be shared.
Thanks to the expertise acquired in several fields related to the environment and circular economy, the technical services of the town hall have also become a source of advice for the people of Meudon who want to embark on their own personal projects.
Meudon is an inspiration for many neighbouring towns since many of its projects have been in place for several years.
Meudon’s approach is part of a broader framework of the Grand Paris Seine Ouest (GPSO). Composed of 8 cities in western Paris (Boulogne-Billancourt, Chaville, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Marnes-la-Coquette, Meudon, Sèvres, Vanves and Ville-d’Avray), the GPSO is a public establishment that aims to increase biodiversity within its municipalities. Thus, certain projects of the city of Meudon are also carried out on the scale of GPSO, such as eco-grazing and the project “Jardiner ma Ville” (Garden my City).
The Town Hall wishes to develop and perpetuate all the projects already in place.
For example, the Town Hall is looking for new plots of land for eco-pasturage and kitchen gardens in Meunier. New nudge ashtrays will also be installed in the town so that no more cigarette butts are thrown in the street.
The meeting with the technical services of Meudon’s town hall was very enriching. For the first time, we were able to see the implementation of circular projects on the scale of a municipality. This is proof that all players count and can act to reduce our impact on the environment. The town hall’s projects are encouraged and inspired by its inhabitants. Meudon is a fine example of a town located in a highly urbanised area but which has found solutions to be as close as possible to nature and to preserve it in the long term.
Copyright CirculAgronomie 2020