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The Veolia Approach to Waste Management

A Veolia waste management site. Photo credit London Permaculture (via Flickr).

Veolia is a household name when it comes to the waste management. As the world’s largest environmental services company, Veolia has made it its mission to keep the environment and its preservation at the forefront of everything it does.  

Thought it has set quite lofty goals for itself, it’s been aggressively working to meet them. The company has also been recognized several times for its efforts, making it not only the largest company, but one of the best.

What makes Veolia special, and what could other companies learn from its operations?

Values

The driving force behind Veolia’s operations is its strong set of values. These influence everything Veolia does, from day-to-day operations to its long-term strategies.

“At Veolia Environmental Services North America, our vision is to be the company trusted by all to protect and improve the environment,” the company writes. “Our pursuit of this vision is rooted in four strategic pillars, or values, that define us as a company: customers, the environment, performance and our people.”

Each of these pillars holds a different significance for Veolia. The most important, is its commitment to the customer.

“We take this commitment seriously,” the company explains, “and strive to show our customers that we are a company that can be trusted–on a local scale with their projects, and on a global scale with the world we live in. Minimizing environmental impacts and preventing risks related to waste generated by our clients and to our activities while providing services that contribute to improved public health.”

Veolia’s serious commitment to the environment, its performance, and its employees also runs extremely deep within the culture. On the whole, it is a company that is “passionately committed to making this world a more balanced, healthier, cleaner, and natural environment, today and in the future.”

Award-Winning Operations

While Veolia’s goals and operations seem very high-mined, the company has been recognized time and time again for actually achieving them. Several high-profile companies have recognized Veolia for its services.

Intel recognized Veolia as one its preferred suppliers in 2013, a prestigious honor that is bestowed on companies with superior factors such as cost, availability, and quality across the board.

“For over a decade, Veolia has been a valuable partner in helping Intel not only meet but exceed our environmental goals,” Todd Brady, Intel Environmental Director, said.  “By working to find innovative waste solutions, Veolia has enabled Intel to recycle greater volumes of our chemical waste, minimize the amount of material going to landfills and drive beneficial reuse opportunities.  Such results have positioned us as an environmental leader, reduced our liabilities, and supported our growth and new technology advancements.”

In addition to that, industrial maintenance supplier Grainger awarded Veolia its Outstanding Supplier award. Generally, 3,200 companies compete for the honor. Veolia was also the first ever recipient of the honor when it was first awarded in 2010.

RecyclePak, Veolia’s pre-paid mail back recycling program, was at the heart of the award. The service, which allows businesses to recycle everyday items that contain hazardous substances in a proper and convenient manner, is seen as an effective and accessible way to promote conscious recycling.

Grainger’s award recognizes many of the same traits Intel’s does, noting Veolia’s responsiveness and integrity in information. These are factors that the company is quite proud of and are always striving to improve.

“Our team is dedicated to providing innovative solutions for hazardous and industrial wastes that utilize recycling and reclamation to turn these substances into reusable materials,” Steve Hopper, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Veolia Environnement North America’s Industrial Business, said. “Our employees are thrilled to see their work recognized, and we are honored to once again receive this important recognition.”

Innovation

Veolia is also stepping it up in the innovation department. In August, the company was awarded two Australian Business Awards for Innovation and Sustainability.

The two accolades recognized the aquaculture project for its use of heat from the gas engines to heat water and ensure optimal conditions for fish farming, thus effectively eliminating the costs of heating the water through conventional gas or electricity. This allows for much more sustainable practices to occur, as well as more efficient operations.

While these awards are important, they’re nothing new for the company. This is the fifth year they’ve been recognized for their efforts via an Australian Business Award.

The heat being used for the aquaculture project is being generated at Veolia’s 5 MW-generating Woodlawn bioenergy facility, which is located near Goulburn, around 250km south-west of Sydney.

The company is now selling farmed barramundi from the tanks of the aquaculture project to shops and restaurants in nearby Canberra only five years after its first conceptual tests.

Doug Dean, managing director of Veolia Australia and New Zealand, explained that the Woodlawn facility was designed in 2005 with sustainability in mind.

“We wanted the facility to be as sustainable as possible while taking advantage of every opportunity to turn everyday waste collected from homes and businesses across the State, into a resource,” Dean said.

The company also drives innovation through its Innovation Accelerator, which allows clean tech innovators to pitch their ideas to the company in exchange for funding. Veolia’s approach to this style of funding is slightly different, however.

“Unlike a number of corporate funds, the Veolia Innovation Accelerator does not invest into companies,” it explains. “Our goal is to promote the entrepreneurial ecosystem by bringing access to more markets, pilot sites and our strong R/D capability. We believe that innovation will drive our own competitiveness and deliver more value to our customers and the citizens of tomorrow. The program was launched in 2010, since then, we have worked with more than 400 innovators and their technologies.”

Through programs such as this, Veolia is leading in all factors of the waste management sector. 

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