Interview with the CIMPA's project coordinator

Meet CIMPA’s project coordinator, Céline Chevallier, who, from the IPC – Centre Technique Industriel de la Plasturgie et des Composites – in France, manages the multicultural and multidisciplinary consortium of CIMPA.  

Céline talks about the present and future of this project and her role as project coordinator.

Can you tell us what is CIMPA about and its expected outcomes?

CIMPA is a European project funded through the Horizon 2020 program. The aim of this project is to develop a value chain for recycling the multilayer films from agriculture and food packaging. The project will deal with every step of the value chain, from sorting to return to food contact, through decontamination and mechanical and physical recycling. We will also consider the societal impact, and think about the new designs and the future of multilayer films.

Where does the idea for CIMPA come from? How was the partnership created?

The multilayer films have always been an issue for sorting center and mechanical recycling. Since they are containing several materials in one packaging, it induces several issue in detection of such materials and loss in properties when going through the actual mechanical recycling processes. But these films are very useful, and really help to increase food safety and reduce food waste. So the idea of getting rid of such films needs to be seriously studied and some new packagings as performant as those, but easier to recycle, must be developed.

The partnership was first started between IPC and VTT, which activate their network to from our current consortium of 13 members.

Céline Chevallier, from IPC (France)

Can you give us a little insight about your educational background and previous work experiences? 

I am an engineer from a French school in Lyon (INSA), and then I did my PhD in the IMP lab in Saint Etienne in France. My PhD was already about recycling, but for the rigid parts coming from waste of electronic and electric equipments. Then, I worked for Multibase, a DuPont Company, during 6 years as a developer of new silicone additives. I arrived in IPC in May 2021, mostly to take this role of CIMPA coordinator.

What are your main responsibilities as a project coordinator? What does it mean for you to coordinate CIMPA?

As the project coordinator, I am in charge of the overall good progress of the CIMPA project. I am helped in this role by Benkei, one of the partners, who is taking a closer look to all financial activities. I can then focus on the technical side, and ensure a smooth functioning of the project. I am also the only contact point between CIMPA and the Project Officers from EU.

What are the next steps to be taken for the project development? What are the priorities for the next 6 months of activities?

There are several steps to ensure the project is working smoothly: the waste collection, the sorting, the mechanical and the physical recycling, the decontamination and upgrading of the recycled materials and the study of return to food contact. On top of that, several activities are transversal: the life cycle analysis, the design of future packaging (incorporating recycled material or being more recyclable than today), the communication and dissemination activities and the societal impact studies.

For now, since the project in only beginning, we focus on the waste collection and sorting step.

What is the added value of CIMPA at EU level?

At EU level, CIMPA will allow the recycling of a big stream of plastic waste: flexible multilayer waste. Within the plastics converters demands, packaging represents around 40% (from PlasticEurope, based on numbers from 2019), and in France, complex packaging is around 20%. These wastes are today mostly landfilled or incinerated (98%). Thus, recycling this waste should represent a reduction of virgin material use, a reduction of waste incinerated and landfilled and a reduction of CO2 emission. Calculation were made and based on a recycling rate between 12% (in the worst case scenario) and 72% (high impact scenario including return to food contact), the average value retention in EU should be between 0.3B€/y up to 2.2 B€/y.

CIMPA also answers to several European strategies : the EU plastic strategy and the European Green Deal, setting targets of amount of recycled plastics, or targets on the recyclability of future packagings.