Some 750 full time CEA employees are involved in matters associated with the circular economy. »
Sustainable development - a matter of corporate responsibility for the CEA
For several decades now, the CEA has placed sustainable development at the very heart of its responsibility commitments through its R&D programmes, striving to reduce the environmental footprint of its activities across the board while fostering economic sustainability and the well-being of all its stakeholders, above all its employees.
The CEA’s programmes in the field of R&D and innovation have been conducted in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). Preparations in 2020 for the organisation’s future 2021-2025 objectives and performance contract highlighted the significant contribution made by the CEA to these goals across the board.
The European Green Deal and the New European Circular Economy Action Plan are also now key considerations in the CEA’s Europe strategy. The circular economy is gaining impetus in innovation projects led by the CEA, with in-house training and assimilation initiatives developed and deployed since the end of 2020. Several FOCUS PhD subjects have been secured on this subject under the aegis of the High Commissioner for Atomic Energy and a cross-disciplinary programme has been set up spanning the Energy, Technological Research and Fundamental Research divisions, dedicated to manufacturing processes, recycling, and material life cycle analysis.
Elsewhere, teams from the Energy and Technological Research divisions have joined forces to investigate the potential for eco-innovation.
A study was conducted in 2020 to assess the CEA’s competences, work in progress and staff numbers involved with the circular economy - in addition to work already under way in each operational division - as a means of identifying new avenues for key cross-disciplinary R&D projects for the organisation to explore. The survey showed that some 750 full time employees are involved in matters associated with the circular economy, working on a large number of projects, but that still offers plenty of opportunity for future consolidation.
The grant allocated to the CEA under the French recovery plan to fund 15 projects across four sites.
Various sustainable development initiatives have been implemented successfully throughout the past year, including theenergy performance plan defined in July 2020 based on the findings of the statutory energy audit completed in 2019. Spearheaded by the CEA’s Programmes and Financial Division (DFP), the purpose of this initiative was threefold: (i) to integrate energy performance research into all processes associated with new builds, retrofits and the operation and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure; (ii) to reduce overall operational energy consumption by at least 3% year on year; and (iii) to define the CEA's new energy policy. An action plan is currently being finalised for 2021.
These actions primarily targeted heat recovery techniques, closure and demolition of the most energy-intensive buildings and incentives for car sharing and travelling by train for business trips. In the end, an overall reduction of nearly 47,000 tonnes compared with the previous 2016 report was recorded, far exceeding the targets set!
In December 2020, the French government announced its energy efficiency grants as part of the country's recovery stimulus package. The CEA is set to receive around 40 million euros to fund 15 projects across four sites. This will allow greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced by a further 2,600 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
Numerous eco-friendly initiatives have also been implemented by the CEA in relation, for instance, to banning single-use plastics, food biodiversity and non-nuclear waste management. The organisation’s responsible purchasing policy has also initiated improvement actions in terms of sustainable development and a new set of guidelines has been issued on the subject.
Scientific integrity, one of the CEA’s core values
Ever mindful of its responsibilities, the CEA places scientific integrity at the heart of its research activities as one of its core values for establishing trust between science and society. In 2020, the organisation finalised implementation of its scientific integrity measures in line with its 2018 policy commitment.
In spite of the pandemic, the CEA set up its Scientific Integrity Committee in March 2020. Comprising representatives from each operational division and the main functional divisions concerned, this committee meets three times a year. Seventeen scientific integrity correspondents were also nominated within the operational divisions in the last quarter of 2020 to foster closer relations with teams in terms of raising awareness and communicating best practice. They have a variety of shared tools and resources at their disposal - also developed in 2020 - designed to support their actions in raising awareness as close to the field as possible.