Grégory Gendre est un alumni du réseau Ashoka. Pour plus d’information sur ce statut, veuillez nous contacter à firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grâce à une revalorisation des déchets en circuit-court, Grégory a lancé un système de collecte-transformation-distribution des huiles de friture usagées en ester-éthylique sur l’île d’Oléron. Ce modèle, reproductible aux autres déchets fermentescibles et adaptable aux spécificités de chaque territoire, permet de substituer aux produits hydro-carbonés de la biomasse locale.
Via son modèle, la quasi-totalité de l’huile de friture consommée annuellement dans l’île (35 000 litres) est collectée et traitée sur Oléron. Transformée en un carburant de seconde génération composé à 99 % de déchets, elle permet de répondre à des besoins sociaux locaux non couverts (mobilité des personnes, précarité énergétique). Son modèle a inspiré d’autres territoires, avec 8 nouvelles zones traitées de la Bretagne à Marseille en passant par Saintes, Toulouse, Perpignan ou Cavaillon. Les acteurs réunis autour de cette action de développement social local ont formalisé leur coopération via la mise en place de Résoléo, leur fédération nationale.
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Originaire de L’Île d’Oléron, Grégory a décidé de s’engager concrètement dans une réflexion éco-systémique où le déchet de l’un devient la matière première secondaire de l’autre. Ancien journaliste économique et chargé de communication chez Greenpeace France, il a lancé Roule ma Frite en 2007 et mis son esprit d’équipe de joueur de rugby au service de cette action. Il est aujourd’hui maire de Dolus d’Oléron.
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.
Nevertheless, playing an active role on an individual level can be difficult and the national recycling rate of domestic waste fluctuates in reality between 15 and 20 percent. Some initiatives show that community-based projects are more willing to engage organizations and individuals in social and environmental issues. A telling example is the creation of a new agricultural production and distribution system to encourage local consumption. For instance, the Cocagne Gardens, a social initiative led by a French Senior Ashoka Fellow allows thousands of citizens to collaborate together on local green agriculture projects.
Conditions are thus present to engage new actors collectively, and now is a historical moment to build community-based models to recycle better. Current models are not working. There is a missing piece in the recycling scheme between individual volunteers who sporadically clean up waste and large private companies disinterested in local scale. Industrial recyclers like Veolia are unable to deal with door-to-door collection and individualized support to professionals who produce waste. Instead, they rely on a simple commercial relationship where one pays to get rid of waste. As a result, recycling rates remain low.
There is a profound lack of economic and environmental rationality in the current system, and recycling processes (i.e. collection plus treatment) can in the end generate more pollution than intended. For instance, before Grégory’s initiative, the cooking oil in Oléron was collected at the local waste reception center; however, without regulations producers preferred to deposit the oil at uncontrolled dumpsites. The oil that was successfully collected at the waste reception center was sent by truck to a recycling center in the south of France and then to Germany for chemical treatment. On a national-scale, better collection and recycling of half of the total oil deposited into nature today would save 50M EUR. There is a huge opportunity to create a more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally-friendly waste management system for cooking oil and other waste.
Oléron and the surrounding region are now recognized as environmentally innovative and exemplary sites. This recognition facilitates the spread of Grégory’s innovative model. Since the beginning, while building the first recycling community, he created the conditions to spread his idea nationally. Grégory partnered with a research and development laboratory, Valagro, to jointly lead experimentations and validate them scientifically. This professional partnership has yielded great results: Monitoring the amount of collected oil has demonstrated the system’s impressive capability and for the first time in France, the use of naturally filtrated oil-fuel in vehicles is permitted. This unprecedented decision will facilitate the implementation of oil recycling projects in other regions, and open doors to experimenting with recycling innovations based on waste issues sourced by the affiliated communities.
To build his network of affiliated recycling communities, Grégory has established selection criteria and designed a turn-key replication methodology, the Kit Huileo. Grégory relies on three types of existing organizations to spread his model: Environmental COs, professional groups, and local authorities. The package they buy as affiliated members offers them a 15-day training, all the materials to quickly collect and filtrate oil, and ideas for community management. Starting with cooking oil is an easy way to launch a local recycling system and allows the network to have at least one common project to share nationally. However, Grégory also pays attention to developing the creativity of the local communities and encourages them to think of new products and services to recycle particular local waste or to use the recycled products. Members then make the new initiative possible by working with the R&D lab and sharing best practices. Currently, the association is half financed by local government and half by revenue from membership fees, the sale of oil, and TV programs, among other income-generating schemes. Already, Grégory is launching five new local recycling communities in France, demonstrating that community members themselves can control and reduce their environmental footprint.
Grégory’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge led him to study journalism. He worked as a free-lance journalist for several years and participated in the creation of two new media communication start-up companies. Grégory seized all opportunities to travel to cover news and his social engagement grew stronger over the years as he observed social and environmental issues all over the planet. In 2005 he decided to launch the company’s first social project in Africa, to reinforce local media by bringing computers and other material resources to local organizations. At the same time, an oil spill was ruining the South West coast of France. Grégory quickly returned to France and engaged in the local clean-up of the beaches and coastland. He then pursued environmental work with a job at Greenpeace in the communications department. His work provided him with accelerated training on environmental causes, waste management and recycling, especially during his last mission, covering the asbestos issue on the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau disassembly process.
At that time, Grégory realized that denouncing these problems was not enough. He returned to Oléron and decided to develop his own solution. Grégory started investigating and discovered an oil biofuel project in the South of France. He realized how cooking oil could be a punchy starting point for his recycling community model given that Oléron is a very touristic island where everyone eats French fries. His previous experiences and communication work helped the project grow rapidly and benefit from powerful media coverage, even at the Copenhagen Summit. Wearing several hats, Grégory not only has great communication skills but is also a coordinator in the field, a great spokesman with scientific expertise on recycling, and a strategic entrepreneur. Grégory is part of the network Entrepreneurs of the Future and helps develop social entrepreneurship in his region, while paying attention to his role as a husband, father, and stepfather to three children.