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River’tri: a waterborne waste collection service in the city

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  • Project initiators: SUEZ Recyclage & Valorisation, Compagnie Fluviale de Transport (CFT), Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR), Voies navigables de France (VNF)
  • Partners: City of Lyon
  • Duration of project: 2016 – 2019
  • Project funding: €2.4 M ex. tax for 2016-2018, with the financial support of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region (EU FEDER program), City of Lyon, ADEME et VNF. The City of Lyon is supporting the extension of the experiment in 2019.

Context of how the project emerged:

The City of Lyon (59 boroughs and 1.3 million inhabitants) has 19 waste recycling centers, of which only two are within the inner city of Lyon, subject to strong growth in demand. For individuals without cars, it was difficult until now to travel to a waste recycling center to get rid of their bulky waste.



Strategy and objectives

River’Tri is a waterborne waste recycling center that offers the residents of Lyon city center a neighborhood service, moored on the quays of the Saone river.

A barge is moored on the banks on Saturdays to offer all the services of a traditional waste recycling center. The wastes accepted are wood, textiles, special household wastes, electric and electronic items, metals, furniture, bulky objects, paper and cardboard.

A temporary public reception system is implemented. Dedicated employees supervise the transfer of the waste from the users’ vehicles to the skips. Every evening, the barge returns to Port de Lyon where the waste collected then joins the usual different waste treatment and recycling chains.

The system is efficient and ecological, without visual, sound or olfactive pollution for the inhabitants.

This project fulfills several objectives:

  • Reduce the saturation of the city’s waste recycling centers, and reduce the saturation of the two centers in the inner city.
  • Reach the objective of 25% modal transfer set by the French law on energy transition.
  • Reduce the circulation of heavy vehicles and CO2 emissions; limit garbage truck traffic in the center.
  • Encourage the inhabitants to sort waste close to home and limit trips by car to peripheral waste sorting centers.
  • Better use the potential of rivers in the city.

Ce projet répond à plusieurs objectifs :

  • Réduire la saturation des déchèteries de la Métropole, et désengorger les deux déchetteries de la ville
  • Répondre à l’objectif de 25% de report modal fixé par la loi de transition énergétique française
  • Réduire la circulation des poids lourds et les émissions de C02 ; limiter le trafic des camions de collecte dans le centre
  • Encourager les habitants à trier à proximité de chez eux et limiter les trajets en voiture jusqu’aux déchetteries périphériques
  • Mieux utiliser le potentiel des fleuves en ville.


The project’s innovative characteristics


This project emerged due to the conversion of a 65-meter barge into a waste sorting center. To do that, it was necessary to design a patented system of skips equipped with robotized arms, that allow the inhabitants to throw their different types of waste directly into the barge from the quay.

Results and outlook

The experiment with River’Tri lasted 2 years (2016-2018) and has been extended for an additional year (2019). For the second phase, the designers are working on an engine powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, to reach the goal of “a zero emission waste recycling center”The City of Lyon is also intending to add a second collection point on the Rhone side in a call for tenders to perpetuate the project in 2020.

After a period of gaining momentum, from 4 to 6 tons of waste are received every open day, i.e. a forecast 300 tons a year. Although this volume is far from that of land-based waste recycling centers in operation every day, River’tri has had a positive effect on illegal dumping in the immediate neighborhood. A third of the users say that they had never used other waste collection centers before the arrival of River’Tri: the system therefore allows collecting smaller bulky objects that were thrown away with household waste.

How can this project be duplicated on other rivers?


The potential of rivers used to transport waste is huge. Barges can transport very large quantities of waste, which is a real advantage, especially since it is a relatively clean mode of transport.

A similar experiment using a barge was carried out in July 2019 on the banks of the Seine at Port de Tolbiac, in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, carried out by SUEZ and VNF, and funded by the RATP and the City of Paris. River’Tri has also inspired the cities of Bordeaux and Rouen.

The River’Tri project has been rewarded by:

  1. The “Le Monde” Smart Cities prize for Urban Innovation.
  2. The “Circular Economy” prize: Trophées Incity d’Acteurs de l’économie – La Tribune

#Saone #Waste #Transport #Ecology

To know more

Photos Credits: Suez, CNR

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