Citeo and SUEZ inaugurate a new household packaging sorting center in Épinal

Citeo and SUEZ inaugurate a new household packaging sorting center in Épinal
Citeo and SUEZ inaugurate a new household packaging sorting center in Épinal

June 24, 2024 by Lilia Akani

Photo of the sorting center taken by a drone

© DR

After 6 months of work and a investment of €19M (including €15M committed by the eco-organization Citeo), David Lamy, General Director of Recycling & Recovery at SUEZ France and Jean Hornain, Managing Director of Citeo today jointly inaugurated the new center in Épinal (88) dedicated to the sorting of household plastic packaging and which makes possible the development of the recycling of new plastics.


A new generation sursorting center

Citeo launched a Call for Expressions of Interest (AMI) in 2021 aimed at selecting several service providers to ensure the over-sorting of new plastic packaging collected following the deployment of the extension of sorting instructions. These plastic packaging are in fact produced by selective collection sorting centers mixed in a “Development Flow”.

At the end of a competitive dialogue then a technical and financial evaluation of the offers submitted, SUEZ had been selected to build and operate the Epinal sursorting center.

“This new sorting center, the second of its kind in France, will make it possible to bring new plastic packaging recycling channels to life by the end of the year and therefore improve our performance by matter. This is a considerable step forward towards achieving our recycling objectives” comments Jean Hornain, Managing Director of Citeo.

A true cutting-edge tool for optimizing the quality of packaging flows, the Epinal center operates at a production rate of 7.5 tonnes per hour thanks in particular to a fleet of 10 optical sorting machines capable of sorting 7 different categories of plastics : colored PET bottles and vials, white opaque PET bottles and vials, single-layer and multi-layer PET trays, PS pots, clear PET bottles, PE/PP bottles and trays. Thanks to this over-sorting step, each of the resins can now be sent to recycling channels.

The factory is also in the process of equipping itself with a self-diagnostic device based on artificial intelligence to analyze the quality of sorted plastic materials and thus reduce sorting errors.

Recycling and recovery of plastic packaging

Progress in environmental matters has been made with:

  • The use, once treated, of inert waste materials to carry out part of the road works,
  • Reforestation measures to compensate for cleared areas,
  • The use of machines running on electrical energy,
  • The recovery of the heat released by the air compressors, necessary for the operation of the optical sorters, to heat the sorting cabin,
  • Sorting refusals processed in energy recovery units.

The Vosges site is one of the 3 surtri industrial units in France* and paves the way for the development of innovative sectors for the recycling of plastic packaging and the necessary achievement of national and European objectives in terms of recycling and recovery. This new sursorting center, the result of a partnership approach between Citeo and SUEZ, has a processing capacity of some 25,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per year.

“This partnership with Citeo was decisive in converting our installation towards the sursorting business. A new start which today allows us to sustain 30 jobs in the region and to work to achieve the ambitious regulatory objectives for plastic recycling. This is a new link in the chain of industrial activities serving the circular economy” adds David Lamy, General Manager Recycling & Recovery SUEZ France. The ergonomics and working conditions of operators have been particularly studied and integrated into the design of the center, whether for sorting operators with a bright cabin, respecting the latest standards in this area, for operating operators and maintenance with easier access conditions to machines and numerous safety devices, for machine operators through the use of electric machines and the implementation of optimized circulation on the site.

To date, Citeo has invested €49M in these units to achieve a target of 70,000 tonnes of oversorted plastic packaging per year and 100,000 tonnes by 2026.

The objective is to respect the sorting gesture of residents by carrying out quality sorting of the new plastic resins collected and their proper direction towards recycling channels.

*The first sursorting unit of this type was inaugurated in January 2023 in Ruffey-lès-Beaune in Burgundy, a third will soon be in Lozère. A call for tenders is currently being launched among sorting professionals for the design and construction of a fourth unit in France to ultimately process 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging.

About Citeo

Citeo is a mission-driven company created by companies in the consumer goods and distribution sector to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and paper, by offering them reduction, reuse, sorting and recycling solutions. To respond to the ecological emergency and accelerate the transition to the circular economy, Citeo has set 5 commitments: reduce the environmental impact of its customers’ products by anchoring the circular economy and eco-design in their practices and their strategies; create the conditions to build the solutions of today and tomorrow that combine environmental and economic performance; give consumers the keys to reduce the environmental impact of their consumption; co-construct and promote the company’s solutions and positions, from local to international scale; cultivate the commitment of its employees in the service of its mission. Since the creation of Citeo, consumer goods and distribution companies have invested more than 13 billion euros to develop eco-design, to install and finance selective collection and to create recycling channels, with their community partners. local areas, sectors and operators. Today, 72% of household packaging and 62% of paper are recycled thanks to the sorting gesture of the French which has become the first eco-citizen gesture.

About SUEZ

For more than 160 years, SUEZ has provided essential services to protect and improve the quality of life in the face of growing environmental challenges. SUEZ allows its customers to provide access to water and waste services, through innovative and resilient solutions. Present in 40 countries with 40,000 employees, the Group also allows its clients to create value over the entire life cycle of their infrastructure and services, and to lead their ecological transition by involving their users. In 2023, SUEZ provided drinking water to 57 million people around the world and sanitation services to more than 36 million people. The Group produced 7.7 TWh of energy from waste and wastewater. In 2023, SUEZ achieved a turnover of 8.9 billion euros.



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