Eco-organisations show solidarity at experts’ meeting

The conference area welcomed the main representatives of the eco-organisations in France, to discuss with the experts the challenges of recycling and their prospects for the eco-organisations and local authorities.

The experts’ meeting was organised around the main players of the eco-organisations in France, who are united in a common approach to optimising the collection of household waste, with a view to facilitating recycling and the revalorisation of materials, particularly plastics.

Presentation and definition of the role of eco-organisations

The role of eco-organisations has been ostensibly defined by the General Framework for Extended Producer Responsibility channels of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion:
“The eco-organisations collect eco-contributions from producers and redistribute them to local authorities or other operators who ensure the collection and sorting of this waste, once these authorities or these operators make the request”.

As Julien Dubourg, Customer Relations Director at Citeo, a pillar of the eco-organisations for 30 years, reminded us, the main mission in the field is “to help our customers reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and paper”. A raison d’être, in his words.

Citeo, in a few key facts, has :

  • A turnover of 900 million euros
  • Approximately 40,000 customers, mainly French and European
  • State approval to support its companies and manage their extended responsibilities as producers

As the Customer Relations Director points out, they support “a clientele that designs and produces its packaging in France or nearby, and assumes a responsibility towards their consumers and must respect regulatory and legal obligations”.

With a mission extended to the new pro-environmental issues which consists of raising their clients’ awareness of the challenges of eco-design and the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – in order to improve the recyclability of packaging, and fulfil their commitments in compliance with the legal constraints of the recycling channels.

A fundamental work of transition on the management of plastic, more or less advanced according to the industries, and the first objective to work for the reduction of the recourse to single-use packaging with the bulk, the reuse, and the accompaniment around the bio-diversity and the sobriety carbon of household packaging.

Complementary eco-organisations with an international outlook

“The role of each eco-organisation responds to a system of financial rebalancing”, as Patrick Bariol, General Manager of Leko, emphasised.

Leko, in a few figures, boasts:

  • 80 members in 2020
  • 850 in 2021
  • 60,000 members today
  • Their DNA is based on the AGEC law, from which they were born

Leko defines itself as an international group, which positions itself in the service of international producers and marketers, with a 20-year history in Germany. This double role is emphasised by the Director, whose group seeks to reconcile the work of an eco-organisation at national level, but also at European and international level, in compliance with intercontinental regulations.

“The rules come from European directives and companies need to have a partner who can accompany them in Europe and throughout the world […] for French companies that sell abroad, or foreign companies that sell in France.

What is Leko’s objective? The promise of an international vision. To go beyond the approval of a packaging eco-organisation, by defining itself as a service company that supports marketers in all their missions:
“Helping to declare or understand the regulations in the different countries because the European Directive has been transposed into local law, but the rules vary from one country to another”. And to support the structures on the recyclability of packaging, of their current and future products.

Leko, an international eco-organisation working for a responsible approach to international marketers

The watchword is complementarity, for eco-organisations led by a common mission of support for the environment.

As Mr Bariol pointed out, “we are indeed competitors, but in the world of eco-organisations, I would rather say that we are complementary and we are going to position ourselves to provide additional services, in particular to sectors other than the traditional food sector, which accounts for 60% of marketing”. The sectors that were most highlighted were the e-commerce, electronics and textile industries.

And to finish, to recall in a punchline: “the problems of yoghurt packaging are not the same as computers”. That says it all.

Frequency of collection and ease of recycling: local authorities are committed to the eco-organisations

Bertrand Bohain, General Delegate of the Cercle National du Recyclage, reminded us that despite requests from eco-organisations to optimise costs, local authorities retain decision-making power over waste management, in order to adapt household waste collection to the reality of needs on the ground.

The aim is to prevent other packaging from ending up in residual household waste and not being recycled once the bins are full. The adaptability of the collection frequency, in line with the number of bins, results in an ecological gesture, in favour of easy recycling for the consumer.

A daily compromise to balance cost control and environmental impact.

The future prospects of eco-organisations

As Jean-François Gonidec, Vice-President of Cosmed, pointed out, the two main challenges facing eco-organisations are “controlling CO2 emissions and recycling raw materials […] the thorn in our side is plastic”.

Two major reasons were highlighted: only 30% of plastic is recycled in France, a very low figure. Especially since the reuse of this recycled plastic by industrialists is only reusable within the framework of mechanical sorting, to date.

The Vice President of Cosmed explained it simply: “All dyed plastic raw materials pose a real recycling problem since they cannot be used for high added value products: mineral water, cosmetics, food packaging in general.

The evolution of chemical and enzymatic depolymerisation processes offers a future perspective of 100% use of plastics, eradicating the problems of dyed plastics and foreign bodies.

Plastic recycling, the common challenge of eco-organisations

This is a transition on a continental scale. The recovery channels will have to be structured at European level, because the plastics industry is not managed by country but by continent. It is therefore essential to put in place a global solution for Europe, and that the eco-organisations adapt to the new realities of the sector, because “plastic today is the waste that has the greatest impact on bio-diversity”, as Mr Gonidec reminded us.

The final word went to Francoise Weber, Director of Recycling and President of the EPR Commission, Veolia France Fnade, who joined the representatives of the eco-organisations to give her definition of the added value of their activities: “Finding and developing innovative recycling channels.

The time has come for complementarity and innovation to deal with the fundamental issue of recycling and the reduction of environmental impact.

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