Isabelle Gattepaille is in charge of the Séché Eco Industries selective collection sorting centre in Changé, Mayenne. Her job requires perfect knowledge of the technical process as well as strong interpersonal skills.
What was your career path that brought you to Séché Environnement?
In 1998, after obtaining a BTS in biological analysis and biotechnology, I joined Séché Environnement as a lab technician. In 2003, a great opportunity opened up when the manager of the selective collection sorting centre left. I jumped at the chance and the director of industrial operations gave me a chance.
What does your job involve today?
I’m in charge of making sure the sorting centre runs smoothly. The sorting centre is a powerful, automated system that separates the materials found in different types of waste and eliminates the “sorting rejects” that cannot be recycled. It is a key link in the circular economy system. My job combines technical knowledge of the process, human relations and openness to the outside. I manage teams, but I’m also in contact with customers, suppliers, recyclers, etc.
What is your fondest memory on the job?
On 20 October 2011, then president Nicolas Sarkozy came to inaugurate the first sorting centre which had just been modernised. The whole staff was put on centre stage. A hairdresser and beautician even came early that morning to do us up. We really appreciated it. The current sorting centre was inaugurated by Bruno Retailleau, then regional president, on 5 February 2016. That was another fun occasion shared by staff.
This industry is mostly male-dominated. How do you deal with that?
Some men don’t like it when a woman tells them what to do, and it’s true that when I meet with suppliers in the company of my male colleagues, the first glances and technical questions are rarely directed at me… But I’m used to it now, so I know how to handle it.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering this profession?
You have to be passionate, motivated and ready to make things happen. The target of recycling 75% of household packaging by 2022 is a worthy goal, and so much remains to be done. There is still too much packaging that cannot be collected and routed to the right recycling channels. When some items are problematic, I alert the local authorities and the environmental organisation CITEO so they can appeal to manufacturers to take action upstream, on the design of their packaging.
What are you passionate about that your co-workers might not know about?
I love plants. They’re really a big part of my life and a way for me to relax and unwind. My house is full of them! I am the daughter of farmers, and there are also nursery owners, horticulturists and landscapers in my family… As Voltaire said: “We must cultivate our garden.”
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