Québec's high technology at the service of a greener economy

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Quebec's high technology at the service of a greener economy

Optel allows its customers to know in real time the footprint carbon throughout the production chain

Optel's technology developed at its head office in Quebec.

IN SOLUTIONS MODE – Polycor has stone quarries in Europe and North America. In recent years, its president discovered, thanks to a tool developed by Optel, that his machinery was unnecessarily burning too much diesel and was able to reduce its consumption by 20%. Since then, the carbon footprint has been one of the parameters analyzed before choosing a technical solution for the company.

“Today it is clearly a criterion […] we are concerned about both efficiency and price, but also about the carbon footprint. […] If the footprint is substantially higher, we will choose a solution that is less damaging. »

— Patrick Perus, President Polycor Inc.

Polycor uses a tool that allows it to measure its carbon footprint on its entire production chain.

The traceability tool used by Polycor was developed by Optel, another Quebec company. Traceability is being able to see the flow of movement of material, products through a whole cycle of supply chains.

It is what Optel has been doing for more than 30 years, explains Florent Bouguin. He is Chief Technology Officer for Optel Group.

Florent Bouguin explains that the “control tower” gives real-time all the information about his product wherever he is .

Today, its customers can directly measure their carbon footprint by collecting a series of data at all stages of the supply chain, from production to the end of the life cycle, including the transport of goods. .

“Do you want to see the carbon footprint of your supply chain? […] Socio-environmental performance? The quality level of your channel? Managing your inventories? In short, a whole bunch of solutions. »

— Florent Bouguin, Chief Technology Officer for Optel Group

The secret lies in the amount of data recovered from the manufacturer and its suppliers. How many pesticides does a coffee farmer you deal with use? How big are its fields? Florent Bouguin adds: We could do the same thing for paper packaging […], for a battery, an electric vehicle, an airplane. We can do this for any type of product.

The European Union is ambitious. It wants to become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. To achieve this, it is putting in place a series of regulations, including those requiring companies to make supply chains greener and more socially acceptable. All the actors who will be integrated into the global value chain must themselves be empowered, explains Kenza Teffahi, doctoral student at the University of Rennes in France.

New European Union rules will require companies to disclose the environmental and social footprint throughout their supply chain.

This is also what the professor at the School of Management at the University of Sherbrooke, Alain Webster, believes. Large companies will have to demonstrate throughout their production chain… that I measure my own emissions, but that I oblige my suppliers to also measure their carbon footprint. Not doing so would encourage greenwashing, he adds, [otherwise they] will emit the carbon for me, it makes no sense.

Forcing companies to be transparent for their entire supply chain also means allowing suppliers to reap the benefits of greening their product. Professor Webster gives the example of an aluminum smelter located in Quebec that wishes to sell part of its production to a cell phone manufacturer.

My aluminum smelter therefore has to [ …] be able to demonstrate that it is indeed low carbon. His product will be more valuable in the market, he believes. I get a higher price if the person buying my aluminum wants to measure it and wants to be able to demonstrate that it has a low carbon footprint.

Components of manufactured products should also come from socially and environmentally more acceptable sources.

Polycor dreams of the day when public contracts in Quebec and elsewhere in North America will take the carbon footprint into consideration in the bidding process. Natural stones like those extracted from its quarries cost more than concrete, but are more durable and less polluting.

“When you install the Optel tool, the important thing is obviously the data collection […] we are installing a whole series of measurement points. […] The day when the governments are going to say "we want to know how much carbon in such and such project", we, we will be ready. »

— Patrick Perus, President Polycor Inc.

In addition to tracking its merchandise on the entire supply chain, the tool produces a compliance report.

The new regulations imposed by the European continent are forcing companies to find solutions to measure and reduce their environmental and social impact. Our way of penetrating supply chains is a bit of a Trojan horse, explains Florent Bouguin from Optel. We first returned to allow them to be more efficient, to then allow them to be more durable.

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