The CEO of Eco-Emballages, Eric Brac de La Perrière, has granted us an interview. This interview provided us an opportunity to review the role of this institution in the management of household packaging waste.
Eco-Emballages is implied in packaging reduction. How do you act on this issue?
Packaging reduction at source is the priority in terms of waste management as defined in the French “Grenelle” Law. It is companies’ responsibility to optimise packaging, while preserving pack functions (such as protection, transportation, storage, usage, or information) for products and consumers. Many companies have already acted. I am convinced it is still possible to achieve further reductions. Many smaller firms sometimes consider eco-design as complicated or expensive. For this reason, Eco-Emballages offers to the Green Dot licensees a broad range of eco-design tools, services and trainings. For instance, we have developed simplified packaging environment impact assessment software companies can download on our website. We also propose on site simplified diagnosis where independent experts make an assessment to propose actual and simple optimization options for companies’ packaging system.
Eco-Emballages announces the packaging reduction indicator. What is its objective?
Packaging has much evolved in 20 years. Many significant examples of packaging reduction exist. However, consumers do not always perceive packaging reduction. Either due to the fact that some companies have to act, or because packaging reduction has precisely been done not to disturb consumers perception of its product. This has led to regulatory packaging reduction targets.
Packaging goods are codified, so as to allow to products identification by consumers in a store. Any change is a marketing risk, in particular for smaller firms.
Therefore, our ambition with the packaging reduction indicator is to quantify packaging reduction actions and make them visible: thus, companies will observe that packaging reduction is now unavoidable, that it is the new reference. We want to help packaging standards to evolve, and remove doubts to mobilize all companies.
What has been the role of the French Packaging Council (CNE) in this work?
The French Packaging Council is for us an independent expertise reference. It has defined the key packaging prevention indicators with all stakeholders of the packaging value chain, on which we built up the packaging reduction indicator methodology.
The French Packaging Council played a key role to recall the diversity of indicators: weight reduction is one option, but it is by far not the only one implemented by companies.
Its role will also be important in the future: it will help the packaging value chain assess the global amount of packaging reduction at source.
What are the other main issues for Eco-Emballages for the years to come?
Two main issues are in front of us:
To avoid packaging waste pollution by developing sorting and recycling: one million tons of plastic packaging is put on the market in France each year, of which 230 000 tones only are recycled. We aim at doubling this rate in economically, socially and environmentally acceptable conditions. Thanks to a €30 Million investment, experimentation on 51 local communities has been launched. We expect results by the end of 2013.
To intensify packaging waste sorting in cities: 75 % of French population now lives in flats, and that’s where sorting performance is the worst. We must increase our efforts to have sorting containers available in all buildings, locally inform citizens and their contacts (housekeepers, owners…), improve sorting places etc. As many levers to make sorting easier and increase recycling rate performance.