[3R] Packaging recycling as seen by CITEO & Coca-Cola France


On 27 March, ALL4PACK EMBALLAGE PARIS organised a webinar on regulatory changes in the field of packaging. This was an opportunity for participants to discover the “3R” strategies (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) of the participating companies. In this, our third dedicated article, we take a closer look at packaging recycling, with testimonials from Valentin Fournel (Eco-conception and Reuse Director at CITEO) and Olivier Larose (Sustainable Development Director at Coca-Cola France).

Recycling: where do we stand?

As a preamble, Valentin Fournel reminded the audience of the definition of recyclable packaging: ” First and foremost, it’s packaging that can be collected… It may sound silly, but it has to be capable of being collected in order to be isolated and have a chance of being recycled. For this to work, there has to be one criterion: that 90% of the population has access to a collection point. In addition to collection concerns, it is also essential to think about sorting this packaging and channelling it through appropriate recycling channels. ” In France today, the channels that are already well established include steel, glass, cardboard, bricks and aluminium, as well as clear or coloured/opaque PET bottles, other rigid PET bottles without lids, rigid PE or PP bottles and flexible PE bottles. These are the channels that really exist, with recycling rates ranging from around 60% for clear PET bottles to 86% for glass”. However, as the CITEO representative explains, not all packaging still benefits from sufficiently developed recycling channels.

“We have so-called ‘developing’ channels, with the introduction of a ‘development flow’ that will enable us to direct and massify these channels towards recyclers who are in the process of building their plants. This is particularly the case for rigid PS, flexible PP and polyolythene and all capped rigid PET. Finally, there are other materials and resins that currently have no recycling channel. This is not to say that this will never be the case, but in any case we are not currently aware of any channels that would enable us to recycle the tonnages that would be collected by the public. This is particularly true of other plastic resins such as PVC, PLA and ABS,” concludes Valentin Fournel.

Glossary :

  • PE: polyethylene
  • PET: polyethylene terephthalate
  • PP: isotactic polypropylene
  • PS: polystyrene
  • PVC: polyvinyl chloride
  • PLA: polylactic acid
  • ABS: acrylonitrile butadiene styrene

Case study: reuse at Coca-Cola

Olivier Larose (Sustainable Development Director, Coca-Cola France)

Recycling has been a strategic issue for Coca-Cola France for many years. And for Olivier Larose, improving packaging recycling necessarily involves eco-design. The expert cites the example of one of the Group’s brands: Sprite. “Five years ago, the bottle was green. And when you say ‘coloured PET’, you say ‘non-recyclable’ from bottle to bottle. So we invested in converting the bottle to clear PET. Today, this bottle is 100% recyclable, and all our materials on the French market are recyclable”, he explains. In the future, Coca-Cola France wants to go even further by ensuring that all the group’s brands are able to incorporate 100% RPET (editor’s note: recycled PET) in their packaging.

Collection is also a major issue for Coca-Cola since, as Olivier Larose points out, only 59% of plastic bottles are collected for recycling via the yellow bin. This situation makes no economic or ecological sense, as failure to recycle packaging ultimately leads to its destruction, resulting in a loss of raw materials and the release of polluting emissions. To overcome this problem, more packaging needs to be collected. Here again, Coca-Cola France’s position is clear. ” We asked ourselves what would be the best way to collect more packaging. For us, it’s the introduction of the recycling deposit, which works in many European countries and enables the 90-95% collection rate to be exceeded. Finally, there’s the issue of recycling. Today, we are investing in physical and mechanical recycling.

Read also: “[3R] CITEO & Coca-Cola France look at packaging reuse”

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