Les Alchimistes, a Paris-based social enterprise, is helping to green cities across France by collecting and composting urban food waste and recreating fertile soils for local use.
The social enterprise organises the collection of food waste – from restaurants, supermarkets, companies, schools, canteens, and hospitals as well as company groups and private individuals – and transforms it locally into compost.
Les Alchimistes identified that good soil in French cities is few and far between, and set out to recreate, thanks to compost, rich and fertile soils in cities where it operates, including Paris, Lyon, Toulon, Marseille, Toulouse, Nantes, Lille, and Réunion.
Bio-waste accounts for a third of the residual bins of the French. It is a significant source that must now be diverted from disposal with a view to a circular economy of organic matter. Under French law, companies as well as individuals must have a practical solution for sorting their bio-waste at source before 2025.
Les Alchimistes say: “Healthy and fertile soils are the fastest and most economical lever to fight against global warming according to the IPCC. With our local and solidarity-based composting solution, you transform waste into a useful resource and help green the city.”
The social enterprise, which was set up in 2017, collects most waste by bicycle within a 15 km radius of their composting sites. After collection, the waste is shredded and stored in electromechanical tanks at the Les Alchimistes sites. The waste decomposes quickly due to this micro-industrialised system. The process makes it possible to produce compost in eight weeks instead of nine, and the faster waste rotation means that larger quantities of compost are produced. The compost is then sold through local outlets.
Les Alchimistes is currently carrying out research on compost made from used disposable diapers. Known as Fertile Diapers, the project has been collecting used diapers daily from around 10 Parisian nurseries since last October. The study aims to show the feasibility and characteristics of a compost made from used disposable diapers.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com