Interview with Antoine Bourely – R&D Manager at Pellenc ST

Interview with Antoine Bourely – R&D Manager at Pellenc ST

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  1. In a few words, could you present to us your position at Pellenc ST, as well as the company’s activity?

I cofounded Pellenc ST in 2001, and I have been its R&D Manager ever since. The company develops, produces and sells inspection and sorting machines for all kinds of waste, recyclable or recoverable. Detection technologies include near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) to identify materials, visible spectroscopy for colors, as well as 4 or 5 other technologies depending on products. We develop our own spectrometers and algorithms allowing for high quality sorting, which is unequalled on certain uses. We are leaders in optical sorting, in France, Japan, Italy, and well positioned in the main developed countries, with a fleet of more than 1,500 machines. With 160 employees, we achieve a benefit of €40 millions, of which 70% is made abroad.

You spoke at our CNE PACK FOCUS conference on 3rd July 2019, on the topic “Packaging and conditioning machines: Flexibility and adaptation to new materials (bio-sourced, recycled, etc.)”:

  1. What message did you wish to send to the participants?

Eco-design, at last!

The true recycling of packages is becoming a strong and legitimate demand, at a time when the ocean of plastics is getting less and less tolerable to our fellow citizens. Yet, a material is only recyclable if it is sorted to begin with. We are then at a key position to help the industry’s stakeholders to make good choices: marketers, packaging, resin or dye makers. For the past two years, they have been asking us massively to check how their products are detected, and they are more and more open to our recommendations. With a track record of over 60 essays on these topics, we have presented a first synthesis valid for all stakeholders:

Avoid carbon black, metallic packages, multilayer plastics, thick tags, etc… Diagnoses are becoming more and more accurate, on the materials and thicknesses allowed, thanks to the active collaboration of all.

  1. What did you think of the format of this half-day conference (topics addressed, new information, networking with the participants, etc.)?

The format seemed very good to me. I received a very warm welcome, other interventions were well focused on topics close to us and informative, and the audience seemed to be made up of very relevant people.

  1. What are the topical issues that Pellenc ST considers to be priorities and that the CNE could explore through working groups or any other means of communication (information sessions, etc.)?

Even if we work on advanced recognition solutions, such as artificial intelligence, or visible marks (Watermarks), in order to distinguish more and more complex packages, I would like to deliver a message of simplicity: the most recyclable packaging, with the best life-cycle assessment, will always be the simplest of packages; single-material, colorless, tagless. We must always keep that in mind, even if we will have to compromise with the market’s constraints.

Topics suggestions:

  • Properties of plastic and cardboard packaging
  • State of play of biodegradable plastics
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