Increasing attendance at the “Salon EMBALLAGE 2012”, expanded contacts with international packaging associations, in addition to the “Eco-design methodological guidebook” due out in April, etc. The Conseil National de l’Emballage (the French Packaging Council) definitely has a busy schedule for the year 2012. Michel Fontaine tells us all about the highlights of this year.
You wanted to strengthen your presence at the EMBALLAGE trade show, didn’t you?
This is one of the major trade shows in the world, along with those in the US, Japan and Germany. Since the role of the CNE is to work out and spread best practices for packaging, it seemed natural and relevant to be part of it. We have been working with the organizing team and the exhibition manager, Véronique Sestrières, for over a year to achieve this.
We had both noticed that there was a myriad of products claiming to be eco-designed on the packaging market. Our starting point was to ask ourselves what “eco-design” really meant, and how to improve the eco-design approach.
This is the subject of your “eco-design guidebook” – a document of real public interest – available on your website, isn’t it?
Yes, that’s why a working group was formed, which brought together about 30 participants (such as the food industry, retailers, packaging professionals, consumers’associations, designers, experts…) for over a year. We have been working to write a kind of practical guide to help companies that are determined to implement eco-design measures.
This guide is meant for all companies, but especially for small-sized businesses that lack human and financial resources. Indeed, most of the time, larger companies are already well developed. It consists of 25 questions meant to raise awareness about eco-design, which fully explain how to produce eco-friendly products and packaging.
Take pallets for instance. It’s a major issue in terms of the environment. Better-designed products and packaging means more items on a pallet, stocking less and in the end fewer trucks on the roads. Here, an inch makes a big difference and anticipation is therefore crucial.
It’s one of the points addressed in the report. These are simple principles, practical issues that we hope will help improve the implementation of eco-design measures.
Mainly, the “Salon EMBALLAGE” is an opportunity for you to raise awareness about eco-design, isnt’it?
Absolutely, it will be one of the highlights of the exhibition. This has been the subject of many discussions we had with our American and European counterparts. Thus, we want to emphasize the differences of eco-design conceptions in different parts of the world during the round table discussions we will organize.
It’s really interesting to see how each country has its own conception of a product’s “end-of-life”.
In Europe, for instance, the European Commission passed laws on “producer extended responsibility” (PER) long ago. Now, producers pay environmental taxes that contribute to the cost of recovery and recycling for their products. It is symbolized by a green dot in Europe and “Eco-Emballages” in France.
Moreover, in France, the “Grenelle de l’Environnement” (a summit on environmental issues which gathers all major stakeholders) helped increase public awareness even more.
In the United States, companies are not constrained by mandatory standards: public authorities are in charge of waste management. Yet, recycling continues to gain ground and has now become a business in its own right.
In Great Britain, consumers are much more involved and huge progress has been made thanks to various environmental associations.
Comparing these conceptions is very interesting.
Are you planning to publish a guide in November 2012 on “environmental claims in packaging”?
The CNE will stick to its principles: promoting best practices and informing companies, consumers and public authorities alike.
In 2011, it had already published a position paper stating the different regulations in force regarding communication on this topic. It was about putting an end to inaccuracy and untruth.
For example, if a manufacturer chooses to use glass containers rather than plastic ones, does this necessarily have a negative impact on environment? Don’t you think there are false truths that need to be cleared up when it comes to environment?
The main idea in this guide is to take 25 to 30 every-day life examples and explain what is true and what is not. It will be entitled “Environmental claims: directions for use”.
Moreover, the French ministry of the environment and ADEME (the French Environment and Energy Management Agency) support the actions we are undertaking.