Interview with Bruno Langlois, Business Development and Partnerships Director at Carbios, on the barriers to achieving Circularity

What do you see being the greatest opportunity or barrier to plastics circularity?

Because plastic remains a practical material, with difficult-to-replace properties, the world production of these materials is constantly growing. The challenges linked to the end-of-life of plastics are therefore crucial. Encouraged by a dynamic regulatory context and the expectations of new consumers, innovation efforts are multiplying worldwide. New technologies are being developed to reduce CO2 emissions and limit our dependence on fossil fuels.

However, several barriers exist to plastics circularity. First of all, the fake circularity of some current solutions in which it is ultimately more a question of an alternate use (downcycling) than of recycling. Also, the lack of competitiveness of emerging recycling technologies compared to the cost of mature production of virgin plastic. Finally, the challenges related to the massive collection and sorting of waste to make these new solutions competitive.

How is innovation enabling the move toward circular systems? Which initiatives or technologies are you most excited about?

I am delighted to see promising new technologies coming to market. It is also encouraging to see that the regulatory system is increasingly supporting circularity by allowing extended producer responsibility and eco modulation of taxes on virgin materials. Finally, the strong (and short term) commitments by brands are critical drivers to make the change at large scale.

What are your favourite examples of circularity in action?

The bio-recycling technology developed by Carbios makes the packaging and textile industry truly circular. Our technology makes it possible to manufacture any type of packaging from any packaging, or a fiber from a fiber for infinite recycling business models.

Technical successes notably materialized in June 2021 when major global brands (L’Oréal, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory Beverage & Food Europe, all members of our consortium) produced samples of food-grade bottles using an enzymatic recycling process.

Why is the Rethinking Materials summit an important date in your diary? Who are you looking forward to meeting?

The Rethinking Materials Summit is a wonderful opportunity to better understand the challenges of all the attending industries, to learn more about the brands’ commitments, and to discover new technologies that enable a more circular industry. I am looking forward to meeting peers and future business partners!

Bruno joins leaders from Sukano, Amcor, Synova Tech, Eastman, and Anthesis Group on the panel ‘The Role of Recycling in Advancing Circular Systems for Plastics and Packaging’ at Rethinking Materials on May 4-5. View the full agenda.