Environment sector in France

France has a surface area of 632,834 sq km (the largest country in Western Europe), a population of 65.8 million inhabitants and its gross domestic product in 2011 was 1.997 billion Euros. Since the Grenelle laws of 2008 and 2010, France has repeatedly shown its commitment to sustainable development, carbon reduction and the green economy.

Market overview

According to 2013 national statistics, figures for 2010 show that the total spending for environment protection amounted to almost 46 billion Euros or 2.36% of GDP. Waste management and water treatment represent the bulk of the spending (more than 64%). Air pollution costs were 7.2%. Administration and Research and Development costs reached more than 18% combined. Funding comes from companies and public institutions (36%), households (17%) and European institutions (47%).

Ecological activities, activities that are directly or indirectly linked to the environment, produced 70 billion Euros in 2010 in France (up by 8.5% since 2009) and employed 452,600 people.

Costs for extracting, managing and delivering natural resources such as recuperation, recycling, water distribution rose strongly in 2010 (up 10.9% in a year) due to price increases in recycled materials.

The recycling sector accounted for 1,950 companies in 2012; 84% of which are certified and 96% are classified as environment protection companies. The sector employed 33,400 people. In 2012, 47.08 million tons of waste were collected and 94% of this was recycled. The annual turnover of 12.375 billion Euros was down 6.5% due to the slump in prices for recycled commodities but investment remained high: 740 million Euros (6% of the turnover).

In 2012, the French waste sector had 283 private companies and 2,200 public waste structures with 60,810 employees. The waste sector generated a turnover of 13.4 billion Euros and invested 881 million Euros in equipment and infrastructure at 1,052 waste sites.

Key opportunities

Opportunities exist in the:

  • waste and recycling sectors

  • water supplies and wastewater treatment

  • contaminated land remediation

  • air pollution control equipment

  • noise and vibration control.

Latest export opportunities – Environment

Latest export opportunities – France

Getting into the market

  • representation via a distributor or an agency

  • trade fairs

  • business opportunities such as public tenders

  • partnerships with larger key players

More about doing business in France


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

  • Wendy Atkinson, Senior Trade Advisor,

UKTI New Technologies

British Trade and Investment Office in Lyon

+33 (0)4 72 62 99 56

[email protected]

  • Julie Lebouleux, Project Manager,

UKTI New Technologies

British Trade and Investment Office in Lyon

+33 (0)4 72 62 99 58

[email protected]

Contact your local international trade team


UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.


Pollutec Horizons is a key international trade fair covering environmental equipment, technologies and services. It alternates between Paris and Lyon on odd and even years respectively.

Paris: 3-6 Dec 2013; Lyon: November 2014


Latest events – Environment

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Energy, Environment & Water
Countries: France
Export Action Plan