The Bic group will dismantle its disposable lighters for recycling

It is an object that every smoker has in his pockets. But nicotine addicts are not the only ones who use lighters. All over the planet, millions of people use it on a daily basis for cooking, heating, lighting or lighting birthday candles. Each year, nearly seven billion disposable lighters are put on the market around the world. The object is not recyclable, however it poses a real concern for the planet , ending up either buried or cremated when it is not thrown into the countryside.

Aware of the ecological impact of its lighters, the giant Bic wants to shake things up. In its historic factory in Redon (Ille-et-Vilaine), from which 648 millions of units come out each year, the group comes, after seven years of research and development, to design a machine capable of disassembling its own lighters in order to recycle them. “It’s a world first,” says François Clément-Grandcourt, general manager of the lighter activity at Bic.

A collection channel to be implemented. place

To manage the end of life of its objects, made of plastics and various metals, the group first tried to grind them. “But the level of purity of the material recovered did not allow it to be reused correctly”, emphasizes François Clément-Grandcourt. The managers then opted for a disassembly process in order to better recycle the various components of the lighters.

The machine design required seven years of research and development. – Bic In recent days, several machines of a new kind thus take care of boning the Bic lighters piece by piece on the Redon site. “This allows us to collect a truly pure material which can be recycled and upgraded elsewhere”, specifies the general manager. The quantities processed are currently quite limited. Ready to ramp up, the group is waiting to define the best possible collection system, several options are currently being tested. Soon, small cardboard boxes could appear at tobacconists or “places of consumption” in order to collect used lighters.

The group is also working on more “ecological” lighters

Once the collection is in place, the Bic group will also have to choose the site where its dismantling and recycling will take place. lighters. “The Redon plant is an option but it could also be that of Tarragona in Spain”, indicates François Clément-Grandcourt, specifying that the decision will be recorded “mid – 2022 ”.

In parallel with this emerging circular economy sector, the Bic group is also working on the production of more“ ecological ”lighters. Current 2022, it will thus launch the Bic Maxi Ecolution, a new generation lighter which will have “a reduced carbon footprint and toxicity”.