IFAT | Amid the coronavirus pandemic, what is the biggest challenge in your business field?
Kyriakis | At the beginning of the crisis, we faced a double challenge: on the one hand, we wanted to best protect our own employees. On the other hand, we absolutely had to maintain full operation of our waste disposal company PreZero. We have succeeded in both. We reacted quickly and—in addition to setting up home office workplaces for administrative staff—we took the best possible protective measures for our colleagues in waste disposal, sorting and at the recycling centers by adapting the processes accordingly. For example, we ordered face masks and disinfectants or increased the protective distances between employees.
We were thus able to maintain daily waste disposal and recycling. In practice, this has not always been easy of course—just think of the confined space in the cabins of our waste disposal vehicles, for instance. However, all our colleagues tackled this task and showed enormous commitment.
IFAT | What opportunities do you see in your business sector in this crisis?
Kyriakis | The coronavirus pandemic has clearly shown which professional groups are important in a crisis situation. It is precisely the systemically relevant professions, such as doctors and nurses or employees in the waste disposal industry, who have often been forgotten or whose activities have been taken for granted. These occupational groups now rightly receive a lot of attention and appreciation from society. I hope and see it as a great opportunity for the employees in our industry that this appreciation will continue to exist beyond the coronavirus crisis.
At the same time, the crisis shows us that the many opportunities that digitalization offers have not yet been fully exploited. We will certainly be able to make much better use of them in the future. There is still a lot of potential here—for us as environmental service providers, for society in general and for our future.