Thierry Meunier, Eco-responsibility Director for Séché Environnement, the new President of the Assises Nationales des Déchets Association, shared with us the major evolutions in progress for 2017, the defining choice made to widen both the impact to the public and the prestige of the event.
You have just announced that in 2017 there will be a renewal of the Assises des Déchets. Can you tell us more?
Thierry Meunier: the Assises were created three decades ago. They attract more than 800 participants every year. They have become a must and all players in the industry make sure they are present. Initially held in La Baule for several years, now in Nantes, these two days of discussion are indeed very special. Owing to the original non-profit status of our entity, the event gathers almost all stakeholders in the waste industry, be they private companies, associations or syndicates, local or national in scope. The latter are involved in the choice of renewed topics to be discussed. Moreover, this year two aspects are worth noting: we are welcoming players from a wider walk of life including a higher number of industrialists, and greater attention is given to all technical and technological as well as societal innovations.
Partners from wider horizons...
Thierry Meunier: Indeed, not only do we rely on our historic partners, but we are also widening the circle thanks to those we now call the "friends of the Assises". These are economic or institutional partners who joined us to reinforce the relevance of our regulatory discussions, to open the scope of contributors and to multiply the number and quality of the messages and debates. Moreover, they will act as relays for the Assises within their own ecosystems - such as the social networks or other conferences. Hence, we are further enhancing the impact of our event and the spreading of our messages, which is an outcome that I really appreciate. Thus, the Assises echo my involvement as President of the Strategy Committee of the filières Eco-Industries (Eco-industries domains – COSEI), involved in the animation of these domains, especially when it comes to the technical and societal innovations they convey and those who drive them.
Why make innovation the focal point of the 14thAssises?
Thierry Meunier: for a very simple reason: innovation is the daily reality of the waste management industry, hence our choice to convey that message. It’s all about individual and collective experiences, about experiments conducted in the territories, in the field of technologies as well as new usages. Moreover, we felt that we could leverage the prestige of the Assises to introduce some of those innovations, talk about their impact, and improve the image of our industry. Thus, the Assises will put the emphasis on some innovative, high-quality, high-impact projects that have the potential to change the waste management world, and give them a boost that will lead to their success, hopefully.
Another innovation this year, a major debate about the environment?
Thierry Meunier: it’s a development we wanted. We will of course keep the technical workshops on the first day and a plenary session on the second day, where the debates from the previous day are reported but also where political and regulatory developments at the national and European scale are announced or clarified. In the closing not only will we hear French ministers or European officials involved in these issues but we will also organise a debate informed by important observers. The idea is to update on environmental challenges by underlining the role that waste plays in these questions that concern our future. The issue chosen this year, as well as the great quality of speakers – which we cannot yet announce – says it all: we will take a look at oceans. It’s a major environmental challenge, one that brings together all the issues and for which there is a “waste emergency” so that we can have a “better planet” tomorrow. A light will be shone on research and what needs to be done in terms of solution to waste in oceans. This debate, structured around themes of circular economy which today underpin the waste sector with consequences for our modes of production and consumption, guarantees that the next edition of the Assises des Déchets will have a strengthened reach.