Four success stories that will make you love voluntary standards
The 2022 edition of AFNOR’s “Or Normes” Awards has paid tribute to four organizations that have demonstrated their ability to harness the benefits of voluntary standardization, namely think-and-do tank Institut du Numérique Responsable, France’s Ministry of Ecological Transition, the Aqua-Valley cluster, and Suez Smart Solutions.
Safety, interoperability, export support, sharing of best practices… These assets might not instantly spring to mind when thinking about voluntary standards, and yet, those benefits are the very reason for their existence! Several economic stakeholders are firm believers in the merits of voluntary standards and are consequently dedicating their efforts within AFNOR to produce and subsequently apply such standards. Every year, the AFNOR members’ club recognizes some of their achievements as part of the “Or Normes” Awards. The 2022 edition of this competition has focused the spotlight on four exceptional stories:
France’s Ministry of Ecological Transition has won the award in the “Contribution to the ecological transition” category for its involvement in the draft AFNOR SPEC specification to tackle food waste, which will form the blueprint for a future governmental label. This label was announced in the anti-waste law for a circular economy of February 2020. “The document lists, objectivizes and shares all the criteria that should be kept in mind to demonstrate that a producer or distributor of food products is entitled to be qualified as an anti-waste company,” says Catherine Conil, who is leading the project in the Ministry’s Sustainable Development Commission.
The Institut du Numérique Responsable has won the award in the “Trustworthy and Responsible Digitization” category for its involvement in the AFNOR SPEC 2201 specification on the ecodesign of digital services, published in April 2022. “Together with approximately 40 stakeholders, we have drawn up a checklist of all the actionable drivers for reducing the environmental and social impact of digital technologies, from extracting the raw materials needed to manufacture a smartphone through to respecting the teams of social media moderators,” explains Vincent Courboulay, a lecturer at the University of La Rochelle who is coordinating the project.
The Aqua-Valley cluster has won the award in the “A more inclusive society” category for its work in raising awareness of voluntary standards among 212 SMEs and microbusinesses in the water sector in France’s Occitania region. “Three training sessions were organized to clue those companies into the strategic benefits of voluntary standardization and its effectiveness in disseminating innovation. Individual support was then provided by carrying out a dedicated standardization audit for each company attending the training sessions, which enabled three of them to bring their innovations to standardization“, explains Yvan Kedaj, Managing Director of the Aqua-Valley cluster.
A special award was given to Suez Smart Solutions for its involvement in voluntary standard NF EN 13757-4 “Communication systems for meters – Part 4: Wireless M-Bus communication”. “By recommending the use of the 169-MHz VHF frequency band, this voluntary standard reinforces the benefits and performance of smart meters installed at consumer points across the drinking water distribution network. The first advantage is that there is no need to send out technicians to read your meter,” explains Eric Farnier, who is leading the project at Suez Smart Solutions.