COVID-19 | Interview with Maxime Séché, Managing Director of Séché Environnement

“Our activities ensure the maintenance of public health and help protect people”

* Interview with Maxime Séché, Managing Director of Séché Environnement

Séché Environnement specializes in the treatment and recovery of household, industrial and medical waste, in France and abroad. What impact has the health crisis had on these essential and strategic activities?

The COVID-19 health crisis reminds us that our activities help maintain public health and therefore help protect people. In addition, we contribute directly to the continuity of strategic industrial activities in the countries where we are present. This awareness is shared by all employees, who demonstrate their determination every day to fulfill their mission. The high standards that the Group has always applied enable us to fulfill our mission in this extraordinary health crisis situation.

To continue to carry out this mission in the context of COVID-19’s health crisis, what exceptional measures have you taken and implemented within your company? Is there a new organization?

Hazard management is an integral part of our business. Our priority is the health and safety of our employees, partners and customers. However, this health crisis is unprecedented. Therefore, we have adapted our operational methods and defined new organizations to continue to pursue our mission. These new organizations relate to all aspects of the Group.

First, the health and safety of our employees, with the adoption of new safety guidelines: in addition to government recommendations, these are reinforced operational protocols, specific to our activities. To implement the distance rules, employee arrival times at sites have been staggered and staff rotations have been reorganized to prevent them from meeting. Finally, the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting facilities has been increased.

This new organization is also based on regular communication with employees and, where appropriate, their training. This communication takes the form of internal communications, as the crisis evolves, and an online “employee” area, updated in real time. Since March 18, there has been a toll-free number for everyone, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Small posters and visual aids reinforce the daily security conversations dedicated to COVID-19.

A crisis unit has been set up to promote cross-functional communication between the various functional departments, collect information from the field and ensure consistency of action. These daily video conferences that bring together the functional departments make it possible to adjust the short-term action plan and to react to the latest developments in an agile but rigorous and documented management approach.

Are you in contact with the public administrations and, in general, with the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity (of France) on the challenges of public health, the protection of employees and the exercise of their activity?

The Ministry of Ecological Transition and Solidarity (MTES) and the Ministry of Health continuously consult all stakeholders in the environment and waste sector in order to support the sector. The MTES has also reaffirmed the essential nature of the sector for the maintenance of public health.

At the local level, we are also in constant contact with the prefectures and the regional directorates of the environment, planning and housing, and we are in close contact with the Directorate General of Health regarding day-to-day care and developments in the treatment of health care waste.

You recently took over the management of the family business and suddenly you are facing a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. How do you live this situation humanly?

This context is, of course, demanding because of the intensity of the work and the variety of situations to be managed. I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank all the teams I can trust. I would also like to thank my father, who is still very present and continues to give me his wise advice.

Humanly speaking, this is an opportunity to put into practice the values I have been given: humility, which in this case means knowing how to listen; put the human being at the centre of all action; the collective. At the same time, this situation requires making quick decisions with a constantly changing flow of information, in order to implement a collective vision. Therefore, it is important to stay the course and continue to fulfill the Group’s mission. This is possible thanks to the teams and the commitment of our employees to our common project. This crisis situation reveals that, within the Group, we share common values that move us forward together.

Finally, the long-term vision and desire for sustainability also guide our ways of addressing this unique context.

The Séché Environnement Group is based in Mayenne; you yourself are based in Laval. Do you see a real territorial solidarity between public and private actors, associations and citizens?

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to talk a lot with employees at various sites in the Group. Séché Environnement has always been linked to the territories where it is present, whether in Mayenne or elsewhere. In fact, we are present throughout the country and are beginning to develop internationally. Thanks to our policy of openness and transparency towards all stakeholders, we are effectively observing local solidarity in all territories. I would also like to emphasize that this solidarity is exercised among the Group’s employees.