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Vincent Gamboa, Technical and Strategic Director, Recycling Carbon

The carbon fibre recycling sector is getting organised, and Recycling Carbon is the proof! Its members form a network that unites institutions, manufacturers and investors around a shared environmental goal. Their project aims to create value from waste and improve the carbon fibre life cycle. Vincent Gamboa introduces us to the organisation and shares more about its pursuit to close the loop by recycling this fibre and usher in a circular economy.

Vincent Gamboa, Technical and Strategic Director, Recycling Carbon
READING TIME

4 minutes, 50 secondes

JEC Composites Magazine: Could you describe Recycling Carbon for us in just few words?
Vincent Gamboa:
“Recycling Carbon is a non-profit association. Its role is to increase awareness among companies and the general public on good health and environment practices when it comes to carbon fibre. We disseminate information through our website www.recycling-carbon. org as well as the events we attend: JEC World, the Salon du cycle (French cycling trade show), the World Archery Cup, World Efficiency, and soon … Our partners include composite companies, independent experts in waste reclamation, scientists, sports federations, and volunteers who desire to co-build a high-performing, innovative industry in step with the environment and climate-related issues of our era. Contributions from our partners and generous benefactors enable us to take up even greater challenges in the area of carbon fibre valorisation.”

Repairing a carbon fibre bicycle
Repairing a carbon fibre bicycle

JEC Composites Magazine: What is at stake today in terms of carbon fibre recycling, and what are the challenges?
Vincent Gamboa:
“Today, many challenges must be met. To manage to build an efficient carbon fibre valorisation industry, all players must be mobilised. It’s a finite resource, and the need for the material is only growing. Carbon fibre has made it possible to achieve athletic and industrial feats that are completely different. The material has received overwhelming support for innovative projects, and has become practically unavoidable. Take a look around — you’ll be surprised to notice the democratisation of carbon fibre in everyday applications. In order to construct a well-performing waste reclamation network, we are deploying actions over time that will enable stakeholders wishing to take part in this thrilling adventure to build their competences progressively. It’s possible for all companies and individuals to take action to make improvements that will allow them to adopt a positive process.”

JEC Composites Magazine: What opportunities are offered by carbon fibre waste valorisation?
Vincent Gamboa:
“Opportunities can be created in all sectors working with carbon fibre. Creativity is one of the watchwords of our organisation. Like “Too Good To Go” that has imagined a world without food waste, via an application that allows anyone to recoup unsold items, we are dreaming of a composites industry that will have grasped the utility of sharing and pooling its resources to cultivate a dynamic, avant-garde character. The composites industry is rich in its diversity. We work with manufacturers, sports equipment makers, craftspeople, artists, and fashion designers. We admire each one of them and would like to help every player involved improve their practices and make them more environmentally-friendly. It’s an ambitious challenge, but one that is attainable. By working on the four fundamental pillars of valorisation, we begin to see solutions emerge: eco-design, repair, upcycling, and recycling. Each pillar holds its own share of opportunities. Time and human resources must be allocated, however, to deploy solutions properly.”

Drone design incorporating carbon wastes
Drone design incorporating carbon wastes

JEC Composites Magazine: Among the initiatives that you propose, which ones are operational today?
Vincent Gamboa:
“The most effective solution to date is repair. This one is already in use in aeronautics, and is gaining popularity in the sporting goods and automobile fields. It requires upskilling through a formalised training plan, but is certainly of great ecological interest and proves to be a profitable solution for high added value parts. Upcycling, or the art of transformation, is also an effective solution in so much as a market study is conducted to identify the paths for valorisation. The workshops that we hold to raise awareness among companies also enable new ideas to come to fruition internally to improve the everyday practices of technical teams. These ideas are then deployed within other production units with the same needs, creating synergies and opportunities.”

JEC Composites Magazine: How do you provide guidance and raise awareness among the companies that place their trust in you?
Vincent Gamboa:
“Raising awareness is an everyday affair. It is accomplished by being present at events, having an online presence, through the actions undertaken at universities and during colloquia or conferences, in addition to the advice we give by email and by telephone. In the times we’re living in, the climate-related stakes and the COVID-19 crisis have rendered possible that which was inconceivable before. A deep change is taking place in our consciousness. This allows us to limit preventive actions and to take on operational ones more efficiently. We listen before shooting off solutions. The motivations are not the same for everyone, but the goal is a mutual one: improving everyday practices to reduce one’s impact on the environment.”

Upcycled carbon fibre cargo bike
Upcycled carbon fibre cargo bike: “We brought together Porcher Industrie, MF Tech, Sports Carbone, Annad to design a delivery tricycle made from 100% upcycled carbon. It took us an entire year of work to develop the prototype, which is still operational today. The fruit of collective efforts, it carries a message for the future.” said Vincent Gamboa

JEC Composites Magazine: Would you say that the development of upcycling is the business model that could make recycling streams profitable (and potentially facilitate development)?
Vincent Gamboa:
“Profitability is a word that does not yet have its place in our commitment on a daily basis. We know how to put together profitable projects and we do so when all conditions are met. One must know how to plant in order to harvest. The eco-responsible seed that we plant at companies has a cost. The harvest is more or less rapid depending on the project and its complexity. Nevertheless, the harvest is multi-faceted: a positive CSR impact, better resource management, reduced procurement costs, a new source of revenue, employee support and pride, positive communications. By taking a fresh look, the paths to a circular economy take shape. Our role is to bring a new vision to those who run and manage companies.”

JEC Composites Magazine: What are the current topics under consideration, and the future solutions in the field of carbon recycling?
Vincent Gamboa:
“The topic is already extremely complex. This complexity is due to the diversity of applications, fabrics, resins, technical protocols, volumes, packaging, project confidentiality, etc. The major topic in the next three years is overall upskilling of tomorrow’s players, who would like to take part in the valorisation channel being created. It is essential that a common knowledge base is at our disposal in order to move forward “calm, cool and collected”. We are searching for a partner who is capable of building a training programme along with us, on the theme of carbon fibre valorisation.”

This interview has been published in the JEC Composites Magazine N°145.

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More information www.recycling-carbon.org