"The social and solidarity-based economy implies an awakening of individual consciousness to contribute to a collective project"
The act adopted on 31 July by the French government relative to the social and solidarity-based economy sets out in 9 titles and 98 articles the conditions for organising various forms of production or services which, broadly speaking, are not based solely on seeking capitalistic profit. Even if cooperative, mutual and associative structures have already been part of the economic landscape for many years, this text implicitly acknowledges the potential significance of this sector, particularly in terms of employment.
Behind the underlying hopes of this movement, one can imagine the limitations to the existing economic model that are emerging, symbolised perhaps by the challenging of the appropriateness of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as the sole indicator of the economic health of countries.
Furthermore, the physical limits of our planet and its biosphere in terms of resources of all types and its ability to absorb the by-products of the activities of a growing human population render inevitable a change in the paradigm, a change which would in principle be driven by a socially-responsible society.
The social and solidarity-based economy implies an awakening of individual consciousness to contribute to a collective project.
Private enterprise obviously also depends on a collective momentum - the very term company implies a place where individual skills are brought together to ensure its success. If financial objectives can put pressure on company personnel in countries like France, where the integration of societal aspects is imposed in part through relatively high social charges on salaries, companies must preserve their expertise and, to be effective, foster the team spirit and the feeling of belonging. Knowledge management has thus become a necessary aspect of human resources management.
On the other hand, the Internet and new communication technologies facilitate the interconnecting of those seeking and supplying resources of all types, some of which fall into the category of sharing. Obviously, concerning knowledge sharing, this brings the risk that the sheer quantity of information available makes it more difficult to identify the information that is truly relevant and useful.
If we are outlining the aspects that this new act brings to mind, it is of course to position the activity of Cetie in this context. Firstly, the structure, the governance, the financing and the objectives of Cetie, as an association under the French law of 1901
, correspond to the criteria of the social and solidarity-based economy. The objective of Cetie, according to its statutes, is to establish collaboration between its members to jointly resolve the problems that are posed in the bottling sector and to prepare for standardisation. Membership is voluntary and open to any enterprise or organisation concerned by the sector. Cetie has no sources of funding other than its members' subscriptions, and the resources are used only to maintain the means necessary to fulfil its mission. Companies, therefore, pay so that their experts can participate in the collective resolving of shared problems.
It is obviously not only out of a feeling of solidarity that companies join Cetie.
They benefit in several ways, firstly by ensuring that the solutions proposed collectively and considered to be potential standards, take into account the particularities of their products or the manufacturing processes they use or may reasonably use. Concerning knowledge, the pooling of experience in the working groups gives the experts a broader view of the issues addressed, especially when the experts come from all the different industrial sectors concerned. In the same manner, participating in Cetie's work can contribute to the training of future experts. This is because the work of the groups generally creates a positive atmosphere, the experts identifying with one another in shared experience and creating a certain esprit de corps, within the limits of reserve imposed by customer-supplier relations and between competitors.
The sharing of collective knowledge finds its continuation on the Cetie websites.
The public website www.cetie.org
more specifically provides free access to all the documents published by Cetie and whose content is acknowledged as relevant. Cetie's members now have a dedicated extranet through which they can find all the documents and information they might need for the working groups in which they participate, as well as documents of general interest. This tool enables members to vote and to comment on the documents drawn up by the working groups, facilitating the active participation of as many persons as possible.
Lastly, Cetie is currently starting work on various "Quality, Safety, Environment" themes, in particular the technical characteristics of the recycling processes in relation to eco-design, and the technical issues raised by the environmental aspects of a responsible logistics chain. Topical subjects such as the application of the French law prohibiting BPA in packaging would of course be monitored by this group, as will the development of conformity criteria, particularly for food contact. All these actions demonstrate that Cetie has its place in the Social and Solidarity-based Economy.
By N. Harris Cetie General Secretary