25 May Taking action to improve internal environmental practices, that’s possible!
The improvement of internal practices fits in the ecological transition by questionning the operating modes within associations.
On this occasion, the associations review their practices on several focus points impacting the environment: means of locomotion, waste management, usage of digital technology, purchases and consumption modes, energy flows etc.
Those approaches are made even more effective by relying on a shared approach by upper management, employees, administrators, and mobilises volunteers and users as much as possible.
During the implementation period of the TEDDA project (2022-2023), Apes enlists stakeholders in order to reinforce available resources and motivate action from the actors of Solidary and Social Economy (SSE).
Interview of Antony Jaugeard, stakeholder in the improvement of environmental practices in hauts-de-France
What are, in your opinion, the factors that can spur actors to change their practices?
There are numerous factors that can encourage an organization to start a process of improving their environmental practices. Each organization has a different path to commitment. Nevertheless, we can name a few main levers.
From a macro point of view, we have the evolution of regulatory obligations, namely the climate-resilience and anti-waste laws for a circular economy, which reinforce the action of the economic actors in the ecological transition.
For the last few years, the issue of ecological transition has been an unavoidable topic, predominantly pushed by very strong citizen aspirations.
Generally speaking, regarding the supported economic actors, we often observe a desire to be exemplary in their offers, to promote and amplify an ongoing sustainable development approach, and to reinforce and entrench their practices in their territories.
On what areas should associations rally on first and foremost?
On the proposed path, we have observed that the associations had important levers on their mobility, mainly business trips, even though those had strongly decreased these recent years with covid.
The organization’s purchases are also a priority area for the supported associations : putting in place a responsible purchase strategy, namely on the food part.
Finally, the digital aspect, which includes a significant environmental impact, is also a strong path of improvement for environmental practices.
What are the main hurdles to overcome in order to take action?
We frequently observe that the main hurdle is available time to dedicate to those approaches (before economic hurdles).
A process of improving practices requires time for each step : at the moment of shared diagnosis, finding paths for solutions, piloting the project, searching for new suppliers etc. That time is often innacurately estimated. People think that only the pilot of the process will invest time in it. Yet in actual fact the whole team is mobilized, which often guarantees a successful approach. Therefore the organization must accurately assess how much time it wishes to invest in this project ( and not only for the pilot!).
What are the levers to boost a successful approach?
Committing to such an approach requires a very strong engagement from the entire team : from diagnosis to solutions, everyone holds a piece of the solution. Approach coordination, imbrication of the different departments (purchasing, accounting, management, operational team etc.), are as many condition for the approach’s success.
Lastly, all of this requires a strong political will to commit and make choices : freeing up time for collaborators, agreeing to rethink purchases (with a potential extra cost), welcome change in practices, accepting the fact that change takes time…
Plus, motivation, commitment and good humour are always winning levers.
Can you provide examples of feasable actions with a real impact?
In the supported organizations, we were able to implement numerous actions. Different from one association to the other, they all have a positive impact. To name a few : Implementation of a responsible purchasing strategy within an organisation, implementation of a bicycle plan (purchase of electric bicycles), purchase of reconditioned electronics and computer products, changing providers for catering services (zero waste and local), implementation of composting etc.
Concrete actions that show that there is not just one good solution. Everyone has to come up with their own solutions!