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Optimize the life cycle of your products with a recyclability strategy

Alcimed works daily on projects at the heart of the energy transition, such as recyclability. More specifically, we support our clients in their innovation projects throughout the product life cycle, from research on raw materials to waste recovery and the reincorporation of recycled materials.

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Recyclability materials Agency Consulting firm Experts Specialistschallenges related to recyclability

  • What is the recyclability of materials?

According to the ISO 14021 standard dealing with environmental self-declaration, recyclability is defined as the “characteristic of a product, packaging or associated component that can be taken from the waste stream, and which can be collected, processed and put back into use as raw materials or products”. In short, an object is considered recyclable when a process exists to collect it following its use and there are outlets for recycling it.

The recyclability of a material therefore does not correspond solely to a physical property, but also assumes that the material is collected in large enough quantities at the end of its life, that technologies have been identified to separate and reuse it, and that the outlets envisaged are based on a long-lasting economic sector and meet a need and demand from the consumer.

  • What are the challenges related to the recyclability of materials?

The consideration of sustainable development goals and climate issues has prompted state governments to rethink their economic growth trajectories in a way that is decoupled from the consumption of natural resources, in particular by starting a transition to the circular economy. One of the pillars of this decoupling is recycling, replacing virgin raw materials (VRM) with recycled raw materials (RRM).

Since it is impossible to develop recycling without improving the recyclability of materials, manufacturers must therefore look into the matter. This improvement is based on:

Based on the "5 R rule" (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, *Returning to the Earth) used in the circular economy, it is possible to modify the codes used until now for the design of products to be part of an eco-design approach and thus facilitate the recycling of products.

- Refuse: Manufacturers must rethink their need to no longer produce superfluous elements during product development. For example, the individual blister packaging of products sold in bundles.

- Reduce: This is about using a minimum of materials, both in quantity and number of different materials, when designing a product. This reduces resource requirements and facilitates sorting at end of life.

- Reuse: Increasing recyclability also means incorporating more and more recycled raw materials into production chains to make the recycling sector sustainable.

- Recycle: It is possible to prepare for the end of life from the design phase, in particular by designing products with a high rate of recyclability, that is to say with increasing the percentage of materials that can be treated by recycling or valorization.

- *The 5th R, Returning to the Earth, does not apply here.

Which materials have the best recyclability rate? What are the least material-intensive production technologies?
One of the biggest challenges in increasing the recyclability of products is end-of-life collection. Indeed, many recyclable waste, or partly recyclable, are thrown away to be incinerated or buried without being reused. To overcome this, industrial players and communities, in France for example, are helped by the government, which has developed a National Strategy "Recyclability, recycling and reincorporation of materials", in which targets are set for 100% recycled plastics. in 2025 for household waste, but also targets for industrial waste such as the recycling of electric vehicle batteries.

How to increase the volumes of industrial waste sent to sorting centers?

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How do we support you in your recyclability projects

For over 25 years, Alcimed has supported its clients on many issues related to recyclability. Indeed, we have carried out numerous missions for various players such as large industrial players (for example: Suez, Véolia, EDF, Orano, ENEDIS, RTE, etc.) or national and European institutions and research centers (e.g., the CARNOT institutes, ADEME, etc.).

The diversity of our clients, the geographic fields that we explore, and the types of projects that we carry out, give us a global and in-depth understanding of the issues addressed in the field of recyclability.

Our missions explore recyclability from every angle; market studies for the recycling of materials, technological analyzes for the industrial waste collection and sorting sectors, or even the preparation of partnership files for researching new materials.

The types of projects we carry out for our clients in this field are:

  • Regulatory framework analysis
  • Test & Learn approaches
  • Innovation consulting
  • State of the art
  • Product innovation
  • Prospective
  • Valorization
  • Innovation process
  • Business case
  • Cluster study
  • Market study
  • Dossier creation
  • Search for partners
  • Competitive analysis
  • Benchmark
  • Business development
  • Diversification
  • Opportunity evaluation
  • Scouting
  • Learning expedition

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One of our clients in the aerospace industry wanted to define a recyclability strategy for its products by identifying the most critical materials and possible end-of-life processing routes.

To do this, our team identified all the parts contained in our client's products and defined their end-of-life treatment criticality using a life cycle analysis and environmental risk assessment approach. Following this, our team identified the possible ways of recovering critical materials at the end of their life, taking into account the economic, technical and environmental aspects of each recovery channel, as well as the possibilities of incorporating recycled materials into production chains. Finally, our team identified industries offering sustainable solutions suitable for potential partnerships with our client.

Ultimately, our client was able to adapt its strategy for recyclability of critical materials and initiate their recovery.
Alcimed supported an environmental player in putting together a presentation pack for a technological platform for sorting waste as part of a Call for Expression of Interest.

This involved our team coaching the editorial team for several weeks on the management of the project and more particularly on the overall structuring of the pack, particularly at the offer level. At the same time, our team carried out a market study of the impact of the platform to help determine the possible pricing of the services offered.

This meant that our client was able to adapt their project to the requirements linked to the formalism imposed by the exercise, to submit a complete and finalized pack.
Possessing strong expertise in recycling and the circular economy, one of our clients, a CARNOT institute, wanted support to promote its skills to manufacturers and thus increase its activities on these themes.

To achieve this, our team helped our client to structure its research offer for industrial players and to identify the key markets and industrialists who could be interested. Then, our team tested the receptivity of manufacturers to this offer to define a strategy for accessing these markets.

Alcimed's support enabled our client to formalize a presentation of its know-how in order to have an impact on identified manufacturers, as well as to define a commercial roadmap on these markets.
One of our clients in the agrifood sector wanted to obtain an overview of its competitive environment regarding sustainable packaging.

Our team analyzed companies in the sector regarding their practices in terms of communication on sustainable packaging for children's products in 2 target countries.

Our support has enabled our client to have a precise vision of the behavior of other companies in the sector around the challenges of sustainable packaging and our project has enabled the definition of a communication roadmap set apart from that of its competition.

Founded in 1993, Alcimed is an innovation and new business consulting firm, specializing in innovation driven sectors: life sciences (healthcare, biotech, agrifood), energy, environment, mobility, chemicals, materials, cosmetics, aeronautics, space and defence.

Our purpose? Helping both private and public decision-makers explore and develop their uncharted territories: new technologies, new offers, new geographies, possible futures, and new ways to innovate.

Located across eight offices around the world (France, Europe, Singapore and the United States), our team is made up of 220 highly-qualified, multicultural and passionate explorers, with a blended science/technology and business culture.

Our dream? To build a team of 1,000 explorers, to design tomorrow's world hand in hand with our clients.


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