Grégory Gendre

Ashoka Fellow
St. George D'Oleron, France
Fellow Since 2010


This profile was prepared when Grégory Gendre was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
To encourage environmentally and economically rational waste management, Grégory empowers local stakeholders and creates recycling communities. Starting in Oléron, on the French West Coast, he has successfully gathered various actors along a local cooking oil recycling chain, including public institutions, restaurants, camping institutions, oil suppliers, and the general public. Grégory demonstrates to each of them the benefits and common interests in participating in the local recycling system, such as avoided expenses connected to the treatment of waste output, corporate social responsibility, and communication benefits toward tourists (i.e. for instance, fun and punchy messages about using the cooking oil for one’s French fries as a biofuel for the local scenic railway). Beyond the significant reduction in the environmental print of recycling, Grégory uses his system as a leverage to raise awareness on environmental issues and to deeply influence behaviors around recycling.

The success of Grégory’s model is primarily based on the community principle. Indeed, the involvement of a large range of actors around cooking oil has a domino effect on the entire recycling system. Beyond the 25,000 liters of cooking oil collected and recycled every year (i.e. more than half of the total oil deposit of the region), the stakeholders have put into place new practices, i.e. camping institutions have created Mister Waste seasonal jobs to optimize waste sorting. The community-based system also generates a bottom-up sourcing of local waste issues and opens up new opportunities to build recycling chains. For instance, fishermen and oyster-farmers were able to raise the issue of having no solutions in regards to the rotten shells that were polluting their tanks. Thanks to a partnership with a research and development laboratory, Grégory is currently setting up a new recycling chain to collect these shells and create recycled bags for the mussel and oyster industry.

Grégory is spreading his model to other communities, with the goal of setting up systems to recycle everything, everywhere. With this objective in mind, he carefully selects local actors, such as environmental citizen organization (COs), public institutions, or professional groups, and trains them to become committed and creative recyclers. All affiliated organizations become part of the national community and can share best practices and solutions. By scaling up, Grégory builds a new set of market-based actors who can recycle waste innovatively and efficiently.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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