“Enforce or encourage?” The overarching theme of the 2019 edition of the National Forum on Waste Management keenly questions the world of waste, echoing the movements that are rippling through our society. National regulation and territorial experimentation, individual behaviour and technological breakthroughs: these subjects will be the focus of the National Forum Waste Management, on the 2nd and 3rd October 2019 in Nantes. Thierry Meunier, President of the association, gives us an overview.
How did you choose the common theme for the nextForum? Some find it quite premonitory…
Thierry Meunier: “Waste and resources: coerce or induce?” The organising committee chose this common theme at the beginning of 2018, as a conclusion and analysis of the Forum’s 2017 edition. During the debates in Nantes, it was clearly difficult to articulate a general objective approved by all and the implementation of concrete action, with the enforcement of binding measures for peoples or organisations, so we decided to pursue this reflection. And it is true that current events have since caught up with us, so to say. In today’s complex society, we can no longer be satisfied with a univocal vision or one limited to the simplistic alternative “0 or 100 %” to move forward on the topics of energy and ecological transition. We collectively need intelligence, some would say agility, to succeed in or facilitate the process. We hope that the Forum will contribute to this, on its own scale, by serving both as a catalyst and as an accelerator towards greater environmental intelligence…
The Forum’s DNA therefore remains focused on concrete action?
Thierry Meunier: Back to basics! For the past 30 years we have been focusing on the reality of the different sectors. We have always set down the conditions for frank and sometimes heated discussions on the question of waste. Our formula - technical debates on day 1 with feedback to decision-makers on day 2 - is designed for this. Practical and honest, that is our trademark! Back to basics also means repeating that waste is an economic reality, for both the processing and manufacturing of the products we consume, and industrialists are the first to have to deal with this. Over the course of the event's programme, we will be exploring this broad panorama. It is essential to ensure the dynamics, but also the economic balance of sectors that are not all equal: some work on their own, the historical example being glass; while others, such as plastics, still need support, and merely optimizing the process will not be enough. Industrialists have been working hard as they want to speed up the protection of resources. The chemical industry, for example, that is greatly involved, are looking for new economic models and materials. That is another the Forum’s specificities, as we invite industrialists to come and present their endeavours, projects and their difficulties.
« For the past 30 years we have been focusing on the reality of sectors. , We have always set down the conditions for frank and sometimes heated discussions on the question of waste. »
The Forum will also be an opportunity to review the regulations and the conditions for their success?
Thierry Meunier: Regulation is another basic in the world of waste, we always scrutinise the regulatory framework in the light of practices in the field. Although the Energy Transition Law or the Circular Economy Roadmap provides guidelines for action, each sector, each territory and each project must be able to appropriate them at their own level. This is where there can be friction between ideas at national or European levels and the realities within sectors and territories, which are often very different and not only due to their history and their rural or urban nature …. It is on the ground that the will to stimulate medium-term dynamics will take shape,with the different stakeholders: citizens, industrialists, elected officials, associations and administrations. However, it is important to remember that the education of all, from respectful behaviour to civic engagement, remains a key component if we are to succeed in doing far more towards recycling and preserving our resources. The next Forum will cover this fundamental pillar, which applies to all generations … With regard to requirements, the question of the drastic reduction of landfill probably gives rise to the strongest debates locally:this will be yet another theme that people are eager to discuss in our workshops. Manufacturers and local authorities are working in the field to make headway on this complex issue where a great deal of creativity, discussion…and territorial intelligence is required! And it is indeed because the Regions, with the support of the other local authorities, are at the centre of territorial realities that we will have the opportunity, during the event, to gain feedback from the experience of the l’Association des Régions de France (ARF) (Association of French Regions), and in particular the Pays de la Loire and Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Regions, also with the participation of the Association des Maires de France (AMF) (Association of French Mayors), of France Nature Environnement (FNE) and of other leading associations such as Rudologia…
« Regulation is a basic in the world of waste: a regulatory framework that the Forum always scrutinizes in the light of practices in the field. »
And you are relaunching the “innovation speed-meetings”?
Our “innovation speed-meetings” have been a success from the start, to the extent that they are now copied … but not yet matched! So of course we’ll be holding them again this year. We’ve been receiving applications since the 1st January, via the very simple on-line form. We are using the three same categories (Societal Initiatives/Prevention and Recycling/Technological Breakdown and Digitization) with the same desire to promote some of the many projects that are proliferating around the Circular Economy roadmap. The selection will not be made according to the means implemented, but according to the originality and exemplary value of the projects, initiatives or achievements. Moreover, we are still following the projects presented in 2017, and in particular the 3 winners. All told us that their presentation at the Forum boosted their adventure, that the input from professionals they met there helped them to progress in terms of relevance and operational efficiency. We hope that this year will allow us to promote and highlight ideas and projects of the same outstanding quality.