Interview with Carlos de LOS LLANOS – Scientific Director at CITEO

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Interview with Carlos de LOS LLANOS – Scientific Director at CITEO

Could you tell us a few words about your new job and CITEO’s activities related to the packaging industry?

CITEO is the name of the new firm born from EcoFolio and Eco-Emballages’s recent merging. Our mission is to take charge of our clients’ responsibilities regarding the recycling and end of life of packaging and graphic papers. We also help them to find the best solutions regarding eco-design and responsible communication.

As Scientific Director, I am responsible for organising a national and international watch on innovative materials and recycling methods for CITEO, setting up partnerships with technical and research centres, as well as structuring a long-term reflexion with our European partners.

Historic ties are uniting both CITEO and the CNE (French National Packaging Council) ‘for the RIGHT packaging’ (CNE’s founding member, active participation in our Working Groups, etc.). Could you tell us the highlights of this partnership?

Indeed, CITEO will carry on with the work Eco-Emballages has been carrying out within the French National Packaging Council since its creation. Our intervention is complementary: the objective is to find solutions to manage packaging efficiently during its entire life cycle – from its design to its recycling, in its initial protecting function until it becomes waste, before turning into a new resource as it gets recycled.

In November, the French National Packaging Council is going to open its new Working Group: ‘Packaging after product consumption’. Since CITEO is going to take part in this event, could you take stock of the extension of sorting instructions for plastic packaging?

Since the end of 2016, one fourth of the French population can throw all kinds of packaging into the recycle bin, plastic packaging included. This proportion is going to increase progressively following the 4 successive extension stages planned for the next few years, and is expected to reach 100% of the overall French population in extension by 2022.

It is a great environmental project aiming at doubling the quantity of recycled plastics, but also an industrial one as it requires to modernise the waste collection and sorting systems and develop new recycling channels. It is a complex project as well, since the whole chain of actors has to be involved (materials and packaging producers, brokers, local authorities, operators, recyclers, etc.) in an often-troubled economic context.

As it also facilitates the citizen’s everyday-life, the extension of sorting instructions is very well received by the population and local authorities. Sorted plastic elements will primarily be recycled, and those who do not own a recycling channel yet will be converted into energy.

CITEO is a jury member for the 2018 edition of our Emballé 3.0 contest. As Scientific Director, do you think innovation is the driving force of this contest among students?

Firstly, let’s notice that environmental aspects, including packaging’s end of life and its recyclability, are no longer options amongst others. They are now essential criteria to assess new packaging projects.

What struck me in many of the projects that were presented by students during the previous editions of the contest, is their dimension of “usefulness”: useful for the environment, useful for the health and nutrition sectors, etc. It is not just about making a technical prowess – which is not, in my opinion, a synonym of innovation – but a real improvement that serves a responsible consumption. We need to keep working in this direction…

CITEO often broaches many societal topics related to packaging. Which topics could the French National Packaging Council investigate in 2018 in the context of working groups?

Issues relating to littering and environmental diffuse pollution (micro waste) are getting increasingly significant, particularly, although not exclusively, for plastics. These issues need to be thought in terms of responsibilities of the different actors involved, and even more in terms of stakeholders’ commitment: the French National Packaging Council certainly has a role to play in the general mobilisation that will be necessary to deal with these topics.