Bernard Driant, waste reception officer in Metz (Moselle)”The French are more sensitive to the issue of waste”

What makes you get up in the morning?

Meetings ! Every day at the recycling centre, I talk to a lot of people from all walks of life. Here, there is a certain hardship, you have to work even in bad weather, but it’s like in many other jobs. And at least when the weather is nice, I’m outside and not locked in an office. When it rains or it’s cold, I have a small room at my disposal. I like it. And since I have an easy sense of humor, it goes well with 90% of people. I live in the neighborhood, everyone knows me. Among the regulars, there are doctors, lawyers, professional football players… people I would never have met otherwise. I would have been intimidated. The other day, a notable with whom it was tense said to me: “You don’t know who I am.» I replied that what I knew was the rules, and that they were binding on everyone. We are equal.

Seen from your recycling center, how are the French doing?

I’m fine ! Still, I had a work accident to my hand while leveling the contents of a dumpster. But it recovers, it’s part of the risks of the job. I find that in general the period is gloomy. People are angry, impatient, more aggressive than before the pandemic. This is understandable. They are tired of queuing at the bakery, at the lab, at the recycling center. The French are on the defensive, waiting. They don’t know when it will stop. However, that does not excuse everything. I feel less restrained than before, more small incivilities: blocking other people’s cars, not sweeping up what you’ve spilled, throwing in the wrong dumpster, talking badly to each other… As long as it’s okay for them, they do not look at how it goes for the other. They are also assisted: some have been coming for years and ask me the same questions every time, do not bother to read the instructions. Everything is due to them.

What is your assessment of the past five years?

Personally, my life hasn’t changed much, my work is still going well. From what I see here, the positive point is the greater sensitivity of the French to the issue of waste. They probably sort more. Children set an example for their parents. But I also note that awareness of the problems linked to planned obsolescence is not progressing. Individuals are increasingly throwing away, sometimes even new objects. They buy a new TV because it is 10 cm longer. We are truly in a society of overconsumption. It’s not the crisis for everyone… Some people leave cars running and waste gasoline. Besides that, others struggle to make ends meet and try to glean things, which is forbidden, or engage in small salvage trades. Wealth sharing is not fair at all. Moreover, I see that the authorities in general do not always make the right decisions, between burial, incineration… Often, it is the cost that decides.

A scene that marked you?

There are so many ! The other day someone unloaded a green sofa into the green waste dumpster. Another has placed glass bottles there… Is it stupidity or “I don’t care”? Again this morning, someone shows me a wooden cleat and asks me if he should put it in the box… I stay calm in all circumstances, and sometimes I box people nicely! But more positively, I remember the queues at the reopening of the recycling center after the forty days of closure in 2020 due to confinement. It was a necessity, because wild dumps were starting to spring up everywhere. People worked a lot in their homes. The police even had to come and help us close at 6 p.m. The proof that we are really useful for something.

What is most important to you in your job?

Exchange and autonomy. I manage my day and the site as it suits me, without the pressure of a hierarchy. I have the keys. I am trusted. I see what I have to do and I do it. I’m free. I arrive half an hour before my shift, to quietly open the recycling center. It’s me who decides. It is thanks to this that I never came dragging my feet.

If you were president, what would be your first step?

I’m miles away from it! But I would work on equality. My first step would be to reinstate the wealth tax. Then I would hunt down unnecessary public spending. I would stop the war in Mali, which is very expensive, brings nothing and kills our soldiers. I would look for solutions to encourage elected local authorities to manage public money like theirs, and not to spend excessively. With the money saved, I would increase the small pensions. I would also raise salary scales to force companies to pay more and to make the fruits of labor attractive. I would make sure that the increases are not the same for everyone. Because the same percentage on a low or high salary is not fair!


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