Interview with a patron
The SeaCleaners interviewed Thomas Meyer, CEO of SOCAPS, world leader in technical assistance in the packaging industry and sponsor of The SeaCleaners. On the menu, a fascinating reflection on “good” and “bad” plastics, and Corporate Moral Responsibility.
The SeaCleaners: Defenders of the environment, the media, private individuals and even packaging manufacturers, The SeaCleaners is often questioned to find out if there are “good” and “bad” plastics. As a world leader in the packaging industry and particularly for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors, three industries that produce a lot of packaging, how do you see this question?
There is a long list of “plastics”, or rather polymer materials, which have different functions and lifespans. It is essential to remember that these materials all offer a sanitary barrier that is essential for the preservation of food while guaranteeing human health… the sanitary crisis we are currently going through reminds us of this.
Moreover, the carbon balance of these materials is generally much better than the alternatives (glass in particular) due to their lightness and relatively low energy consumption during their production and recycling.
While it is true that some plastics are single-use, non-recyclable and non-biodegradable (such as the older generations of plastic bags or certain yoghurt cups), others (such as PETs) maintain their properties after many recycling cycles thanks to their initial composition.
We are also observing the rise of more virtuous and natural materials, whose composition and properties are comparable to those of polymer materials, for example those made from milk proteins or vegetable matter (PLAs in particular) and which have an impressive variety of uses.
Some of these polymer materials can be replaced by new materials that require us to adapt to produce them in sufficient quantities to meet the needs of the agri-food industry.
The way I look at the use of these materials, whether they are plastics or more broadly on packaging, is very simple: any waste can become a resource (infinitely for some) provided that it is chosen for the right use and ends up in the right collection and recycling cycle. It is a main link in the circular economy.
The SeaCleaners: In the context of the technological, economic and environmental changes we are experiencing, more and more companies are reviewing their organisations and processes in order to limit their carbon footprint. How does SOCAPS participate in the deployment of pragmatic solutions?
SOCAPS is an industrial technical assistance operator, our major participation as well as our role as a service provider starts with the optimization of our resources.
In order to optimize the carbon footprint of our travels (currently we have initiated a process with the Carbon4 firm on this subject), we have adopted a policy of locating the activity using information technologies 4.0 (augmented reality, intelligent chat, tour optimization software…) to limit point-to-point travels or to transmit know-how rather than systematically moving technicians.
Since the end of 2018, we have also developed a community platform for our technicians “MySOCAPS” which allows, among other things, the communication of our actions to our community of technicians and also the dematerialization of documents related to their interventions (invoices, plane tickets, reports, etc.).
The SeaCleaners: Very concretely, how do you guide your customers towards more sustainable solutions?
SOCAPS actively participates in the development of a collective consciousness on a sustainable economy. Thanks to our presence for more than 35 years in the Agro-Food, Health and Cosmetics sectors, our actions are mainly focused on communication and networking between industrial manufacturers or users of machines and innovative players in the field of recycling.
We see our role as a service operator as that of a “trusted third party”, acting as a link between the various machine manufacturers and end users in order to mobilise, through the trade unions and professional associations of which we are members, our customers and partners throughout the world on the challenges of the circular economy.
At SOCAPS, we wish to set up consultations with our customers: equipment manufacturers, machine users, unions, associations and manufacturers’ groups in order to restitute key information and share best practices in terms of circular economy. SOCAPS is preparing on this subject a survey among participants and visitors of different international fairs about their innovative ideas of tomorrow’s packaging and circular economy.
The SeaCleaners: SOCAPS Fund develops actions in the environment but also in other sectors. Can you explain what motivated the creation of this fund and what are the actions you are most proud of today?
Social and Environmental Responsibility… and beyond that, Corporate Moral Responsibility (CMR) is a key issue for SOCAPS, a craft cooperative. As a cooperative, we are convinced of the social role of companies, both through the democratic governance it imposes and the territorial anchoring it implies. SOCAPS’ values of “Entrepreneurship, Talent, Respect and Engagement” (ETRE) are thus inseparable from our social and environmental commitment materialized in the SOCAPS FUND approach.
We are convinced that a major lever for any company is to carry out concrete actions to mobilize its ecosystem (customers, suppliers, employees and institutions). In particular, by soliciting internal goodwill. SOCAPS FUND was created with this objective in mind and supports actions in different fields, whether they are Sports, Cultural, Solidarity or Environmental.
SOCAPS is proud of all of SOCAPS FUND’s actions and in particular, beyond the partnership with The SeaCleaners, which is of course particularly close to our hearts, its support to :
1. the “Maison de l’Artemisia” which brings together medical and agronomic expertise in each country of sub-tropical Africa and works to make a free and ecological remedy against malaria available to the populations.
2. The “C.I.E.L.O. Humanitarian Association” and the construction of a drinking fountain in schools and to connect it to the drinking water supply network of the Benin National Water Company (SONEB). This is to provide more regular hydration to pupils, to help reduce the prevalence of waterborne diseases, to eliminate the cost of purchasing and transporting water for teachers, to
help reduce the number of primary school dropouts by improving the living environment in the school and to facilitate awareness of personal hygiene through more accessible water.