Interview with Aymeric SCHULTZE, Chief Executive at ACN

Packaging and Traceability of products
Apr 2015
Caroline Delacour from WORLDPRESSONLINE Interview
Apr 2015

Interview with Aymeric SCHULTZE, Chief Executive at ACN

portrait_A_SchultzeCan you briefly present ACN?

Alliance Carton Nature (ACN) represents food carton manufacturers in France (Tetra Pak, SIG Combiblok and Elopak), and endeavors to make food cartons a well-known solution for renewable, recyclable packaging with a low carbon footprint.

ACN actively participates in the CNE’s collective intelligence. How does it work with the CNE to promote “the best of packaging”? What common, day-to-day stakes does the CNE share with the ACN?

ACN participates in the CNE’s working groups and makes its contribution by sharing its experience in industrial packaging with the community. It strives to encourage its members to take recommendations from the CNE’s publications into account and embrace them: in particular, we participate in working groups about eco-design and environmental information. ACN is a member of the CNE’s “Environmental Claims” committee.

Citizens, consumers, decision makers… We are all in contact with packaging on a daily basis. Yet packaging is a highly issue. We only notice it once it has completed its duty – protecting products – and is disposed of! The CNE is involved in raising awareness about packaging’s many functions and their great added value: transport, conservation, protection, handling, and so on. ACN completely agrees with this view on packaging and supports the CNE by providing its contribution on a specific type of packaging – food cartons. In our industry, one look at the current carton models, which have various sizes, shapes and caps, is enough to understand the importance our members grant to innovation, measuring up to the diversity of consumers’ needs.

In addition, ACN sees the CNE as a platform, a network where concerned parties gather to prove the entire industry’s commitment to improve their packaging, be even more helpful to consumers and reduce their environmental impact. The CNE works as a sound box to explain our commitments to a large-scale public, especially in terms of environmental protection.

Recently, you participated in writing the document “Packaging and Circular Economy”, can you explain the importance of circular economy for food cartons (use of resources, transport, recycling…)?

Circular economy, as stated by the recent draft law on energy transition in France, must rely on upstream management of natural resources, and later, on waste recycling. We wish for all work regarding circular economy and all people involved in said work to keep this double approach of the issue in mind.

Food cartons are an interesting example of how circular economy is put into practice: initially, 75% of a carton is made of cardboard, which comes from responsibly managed forests, often certified by the FSC®, an extremely strict forest certification NGO. ACN members have made an exemplary commitment: to have 100% of their production sites worldwide certified by the FSC® by 2018. Using renewable resources is a way to implement circular economy.

In general, ACN members are looking into every possible eco-design solution for their cartons; improving their design is not only a company-centered measure, it’s an industry-wide process. In addition to commitments regarding cardboard, innovations have been achieved by replacing fossil polyethylene with vegetal polyethylene, and by removing aluminum barriers, for instance.

Subsequently, food cartons are recycled and given a second life: cardboard can be recycled into wiping products or packaging, while plastic and aluminum contained in cartons can be used for street furniture. Nowadays, 45% of cartons put on the market are recycled, and we hope to further increase this percentage.

What are ACN’s main preoccupations regarding food cartons? Is it legitimate for the CNE to document some of these preoccupations?

In addition to the issue of circular economy, which strikes us as a great opportunity to promote commitments made by packaging industry companies, ACN and its members pay close attention to the organization of packaging sorting and recycling in France. We have supported and assisted public authorities in the organization of sorting to be implemented by 2030. We follow decisions to make sorting instructions applicable to all plastics with keen interest.

These issues may sound like mere technicalities, but they will have a strong influence on our daily life in the next few years: more and more packaging is becoming eligible for recycling, and sorting instructions are developing. Therefore, the organization of their collection and sorting in France must adapt to face these evolutions and maintain the cost for companies, citizens and communities at a reasonable level. We will have to rationalize our industrial tools and optimize collection plans. We deem that an essential condition for the improvement of packaging recycling rates.