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Interview with Hervé Marcel – Task Officer at the French National Laboratory of Metrology and Testing (LNE)

Hervé MARCELCould your present the LNE in a few words?

The LNE specialises in measurements and developing references. That is to say, everything that gives structure to measures.

With this skill base, the LNE works for manufacturers as well as institutions to provide solutions for their problems regarding either societal issues (safety/health, environmental footprint) or economic issues (industrial performance, cost control).

To do this, the LNE offers testing and calibration services, as well as certification, research and transfer, technical and training support. These services are offered in the consumer goods and the construction sector, but also in the medical and instrumentation industries, or in the industrial sector in general.

In the packaging industry, the LNE shares its expertise on all kinds of materials, packaging and their field of use, be it food, medical or industrial products, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics.

This year, the LNE has joined the CNE as a member of its ninth group. Could you explain the LNE’s motivation to support the CNE and its activities?

Seeing that the CNE and the LNE have several shared common objectives, we decided to submit our application.

One of the LNE’s missions is to strengthen its support to companies in general by identifying and factoring in arising needs, and by transferring knowledge acquired, in particular, through research.

The aim of the LNE is thus to help increase corporate innovation and make companies competitive.

We have decided to develop this approach in packaging, a strategic sector, in which the LNE can rely on solid and widely recognised experience.

The CNE appeared to us as the forum in which we could best contribute regarding our mission of corporate support. It represents the value chain of packaging, has moral values which we can identify with and benefits from national and international recognition.

The LNE works with many of its clients. Could you tell us what their main concerns regarding packaging are? Does the CNE have a legitimate claim on documenting some of these concerns?

Safety, quality, hygiene, environmental footprint, suitability and cost reduction are all strong preoccupations of our clients.

We have noticed that their requests are shifting to include several issues simultaneously. For instance, optimizing packaging for food safety, while remaining environment-friendly AND keeping costs to a minimum. Or considering the packaging, the product it contains AND its process.

I think these are topics the CNE could look into.

The LNE intends to participate actively in the CNE’s collective intelligence within its task forces. What do you think are the buttons to push with the CNE to enable ‘the best of packaging’ to make further progress?

I think communication is key in order to spread and highlight the CNE’s research and better promote the ‘best of packaging’.

Communication with consumers and institutions of higher education in particular.

Could you identify one or two issues inside the LNE’s field of action that could be a subject for a CNE task force?

First, a predictive approach to packaging.

It will be necessary to meet the industrial requirements of future packaging, develop new assessment strategies and methodological approaches (e.g. assessing complex packaging behaviour with predictive approaches). These two components will help strengthen consumer safety with safer packaging and foster industrial innovation.

Another theme could be “packaging and nanotechnology”.

Nanotechnologies are a current issue and shed light on the state of knowledge in the packaging sector. Risk management also seems relevant.

Do you have any suggestions to reinforce the CNE’s activities and therefore its exposure?

Know-how is already very well established within the CNE. Its members, participants and the research that has already been conducted are all proof thereof.

From where I stand, and with every precaution that our very recent membership requires, I think an emphasis should be on sharing this know-how.

Therefore, to strengthen the CNE’s activities, we can offer, whenever it is relevant, to relay the research published by the CNE, by means of our training programs, our one-day technical information sessions and our information campaigns in general.

This could also be ensured by the ProPack Food network which is moderated by the LNE as well as the Web ProPack Food Training Platform.