« Epsilon Composite is a family business historically very involved in the development of its territory, the Médoc and the Aquitaine Region. Since its origins, the company has voluntarily integrated social and environmental matters into its strategy.
In 1987, the year Epsilon was created, the Bruntland report defined Sustainable Development in these terms: “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs”. I believe this definition remains as relevant as ever…
Epsilon Composite’s Sustainable Development policy is directly driven by its top management, and is based in particular on the objectives defined by the United Nations, the Neo Terra roadmap for ecological transition, using as reference standards the ISO 14000 family as well as the Net Zero Initiative standard from Carbone 4.
We regularly assess our social and environmental performance throughout our value chain, and apply a continuous improvement approach with objectives that are both ambitious and realistic, in order to strengthen our positive impacts and reduce our negative impacts.
I work with our management to ensure the relevance and sincerity of our commitment, as well as the real effectiveness of our actions. This represents considerable work for a medium-sized company like ours, which does not have the means of large corporations. For the sake of pragmatism and efficiency, we devote our time to “doing”, rather than formalizing and communicating what we do !
Let met tell you it’s not always a peaceful and easy task, because Sustainable Development is a complex issue and a source of passionate debates (inside and outside our company), but ultimately incredibly mobilizing. »
Alexandre LULL, Managing Director
- Epsilon Composite’s carbon footprint
- Life cycle analyzes
- Responsible waste management & recycling
- Societal commitment within and beyond our value chain
Our main sustainable development standards
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined by 193 United Nations in 2015.
Epsilon Composite identified 10 main goaks within the sustainatable development goals defined by the United Nations. We are taking action for each one in order to strengthen our positive impacts & reduce our negative ones :
The Neo Terra roadmap for ecological transition, which guides compagnies in their transformation towards sober production models, more respectful of the environment and people.
ISO 26000 – Corportage social responsibility standard
“CSR is the compagny’s choice to include environmental and social issues into its commercial activities and relations to its stakeholders.“
ISO 14001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system.
The standard provides a framework for many environmental issues in relation to the compagny’s activites. For example : air pollution, water and wastewater management, waste management, soil contamination, mitigation of climate change and adapatation/efficient use of ressources.
Like all ISO standards it emphasizes on continuous improvement and the importance of management implication.
We also rely on other international standards based on the ISO 14000 family of standards such as :
- ISO 14025 – Environmental labels and declarations – Type III environmental declarations – https://www.iso.org/standard/38131.html
- ISO 14044 – Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) – https://www.iso.org/fr/standard/38498.html
- ISO 14064 – Reports on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and their reduction or removal within the compagny – https://www.iso.org/standard/66453.html
The Net Zero Initiative is based on 3 pillars :
- Reduce emissions (direct and indirect ones),
- Reduce emissions of others,
- Boost carbon stocks.
Epsilon Composite’s carbon footprint
To assess and reduce our direct and indirect emissions (1rst guideline of the Net Zero Initiative) we frequently perform our carbon footprint assessment. This process includes our whole value chain (from the extraction of raw materials to their end-of-life). Thus, we account for all emissions in our carbon footprint (scope 1, 2 and 3). This is particularly important because indirect emissions (scope 2 and 3) make up a significant portion of emissions (98 %) mainly because of raw materials and logistics ! This process is used as a diagnosis for our strategic decisions. Moreover, it is used as a base to insure reduction of emissions in collaboration with our suppliers, clients and partners.
ISO 14064 & GHG Protocol.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
A life cycle assesment based on multi-criteria is the most comprehensive and pertinent tool to globaly assess the environmental impacts of a product. Life cycle analysis helps identify and quantify the physical flows of matter and energy associated with a product or service throughout its life cycle (from extraction of raw materials to end of life, following a standardized method (ISO 14044)). Life cycle assement helps compare the impact of different products (via environmental benchmarking) or of a design as part of an eco-design approach.
This allows us to measure the emissions avoided by our products (axis 2 of the Net Zero Iniative standard), and helps us decide how to orient our future developments.
Thanks to carbon fiber and it’s extraordinary properties, Epsilon Composite offers many durable and efficient products which, when used, help significantly reduce the environmental impact in regards to traditionnal metallic solutions (steel, aluminum, titanium).
However, even the most virtuous products can be used in an usustainable fashion by the end customer. Thus, one of the challenges of life cycle analysis is to establish the actual use of the product.
ISO 14064 Standard
Reponsible waste management & recycling
From the very begining, Epsilon Composite implemented a rigorous and respectful waste and recycling management system. This system is based on a continuous improvement approach and is managed by one of our employees on a day-to-day baisis.
As for our suppliers, workshops and offices, we strive to reduce waste created by our activities as much as possible while also taking into account the various associated issues (logistics, quality, safety, economics…).
We’ve implemented a thorough recycling system based on 7 main types of waste (metals, cardboard, paper, wood, plastic films, non-hazardous industrial waste, soiled waste). This recycling process also includes sub-sectors such as : light bulbs and neon lights, batteries, compost, ink cartridges and toners, electronic equipment, IBC containers… which are handled by specific service providers responsibly choosen.
Over a quarter of our waste is recycled (metals, wood, cardboard, paper, plastic films…). We also recycle our carbon fiber scraps and solvents. They are reused within the compagny or via specific service providers.
Around a third of our waste is repurposed as Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF). SRF is used as a substitute for fossil fuels (gas) to power heavy industry furnaces (cement factories, metallurgy…). The calorific value of hard cardboards and resin surplus are precisely what industrials are looking for when using SRF.
Since 2018, part of our composite and resin surplus is also repurposed through over-cycling :
- By collaborating, manufacturing and designing end products with other SMEs of the Aquitaine Region,
- By developping our own products through our internal innovation contest (Epicure contest),
- Through our designer furniture Bellul.
Our soiled waste is treated separately and incinerated. These are mainly empty canisters containing traces of non polymerized resins. To avoid all risks of chemical reaction, fire or smoke developement we treat this waste with close attention. With every year, we get better at recycling, repurposing and waste reduction to reach our goal : repurposing 90 % of our waste by 2030.
Carbon fiber products that we manufacture are usually designed to be repairable and are lasting because they are rustproof and durable by nature but, at some point, they reach their end of life. With this in mind, since the 90’s, Epsilon Composite is involved with different external partners in the development of a recycling branch of composite materials and more specifically carbon fiber composites with a thermoset matrix. These materials are recycled by specialized compagnies so that they can be reused as semi-products. The most commun technic is composite grinding. Carbon fibers can also be recycled without cutting them through solvolysis or thermolysis even though these techniques are not widespread due to the small amount of recyclable resources and high cost of production.
Societal commitment within and beyond our value chain
Epsilon Composite financially supports and is committed to initiatives contributing to Sustainable Development : reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, boosting carbon stocks, reduction of waste and sources of pollution, promoting management that is more respectful of people, living beings and their environment or contributing to the harmonious development of our community and its individuals. The compagny, its executives and leaders are members of many organizations, associations, professional unions or standardization committees having a societal and environmental impact, in order to influence legal, economic, societal and cultural developments (some examples below).