Veolia has gone through transformational change to convert from a waste management company to a producer of resources, reducing dependency on natural resources for itself and its customers, creating new revenue streams and opening up new markets.
What the judges thought
- Veolia is an example of a transformational business rather than simply an evolving one.
- Veolia demonstrated collaborative working with clients to create unique and innovative projects which are replicable to other situations.
- The company has created an integrated strategy that has enabled the development of sustainable products and services across the business.
Environmental and business impacts
- Closed the resource loop for customers by keeping materials such as wastewater, plastics and waste detergent in circulation.
- Created renewable energy from waste, generating electricity to power 600,000 homes.
- Moved up the waste hierarchy by preventing resources becoming waste in the first place; for example saving 120 million litres of oil and 585,000 tonnes of carbon emissions through plastics recycling.
- Generated £158.5 million (19% of revenue) through circular products that were previously seen as waste and are now sold and re-introduced into the supply chain.
- Increased brand awareness from 79% of people in 2013 to 84% in 2014.
- Accessed new markets and generated £344 million from services that help customers improve their efficiency and reduce their environmental impact.
“ Veolia demonstrated leadership, engagement of people and the building of collaborative partnerships to generate innovative streams of sustainable products and services across the business. ”
It has embedded innovative thinking around the circular economy into the fabric of its business. By harnessing a large team of engineers and scientists, and the ideas of staff, it has created large-scale solutions to waste, which significantly reduce dependency on natural resources.
Veolia now generates 21 times more energy than it consumes, saves more carbon than it emits, and has developed a viable revenue stream worth £158,5 million through selling products that would otherwise have been seen as waste.
The story in detail
Veolia has reduced dependency on natural resources for itself and its customers by manufacturing products and green energy using waste, wastewater and wasted heat. This has created new revenue streams and opened up new markets.
Embracing the circular economy
The company has transformed its business through its Resourcing the World strategy. Its three complementary business activities – water, waste and energy – have enabled it to reduce both its own environmental impacts and those of its customers. As a result, it generates 21 times more energy than it consumes and saves more carbon than it emits.
Veolia has embraced the circular economy by preserving resources and keeping them in circulation for as long as possible. It offers bespoke, closed-loop solutions to customers such as turning their food waste into fuel, garden waste into compost and waste and wastewater into energy. For example, through recycling wastewater back into a manufacturing process, Veolia reduced one customer’s water footprint by 75%.
Research and innovation throughout the business
The Resourcing the World strategy has had positive environmental impacts across the whole value chain – including customers, suppliers, local communities and the public. It has enabled Veolia to generate nearly 20% of its revenue through circular products, access new markets, win and retain customers and attract talented employees. It also helps Veolia’s large corporate customers to meet their sustainability commitments, with a 2014 market analysis* showing that 73% had these commitments in place.
Veolia has a full time Head of Circular Economy and a Technical Direction team of over 45 engineers and scientists who work on reducing environmental impacts. The Resourcing the World strategy has been cascaded throughout the business via roadshows, videos, presentations and blogs. In addition, the company’s Innovation Forum encourages employees from anywhere within Veolia to submit innovation ideas to be piloted in the business. With 2,000 employees engaged in the forum in 2014, 24 projects have been approved and four are now ready for market.
The business benefits include £158.5 million generated in revenue from selling materials produced from waste through circular solutions and £344 million generated in revenue from services that reduce customers’ environmental impacts. More than £50 million is generated in revenue from selling energy and fuel recovered from waste. .
What Veolia's CEO said:
“Sustainable organisations will be the ones that succeed in the future, by recognising and responding to challenges and proactively adapting their business. Here at Veolia we have gone through transformational change to address the challenges of the future, adapting our business model in order to contribute to the circular economy through closed loop solutions, prioritising the employment of disadvantaged people and reducing our carbon emissions.
“We’ve innovated in order to become a re-manufacturer, an energy supplier, an architect of the ‘green economy’ and a trusted guardian of the natural environment.” - Estelle Brachlianoff, CEO