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How does Veolia intend to look more to nature for inspiration and use ideas from it, particularly for water management?

Veolia’s mission is to deliver the most efficient possible environmental services across its three business lines: management of waste, water and energy. In each of these fields we develop innovative technologies and create alternative solutions to meet the major environmental challenges we all face, and to successfully deliver ecological transition. Every solution is tailored specifically to reduce the environmental footprint of our own or our clients’ activities. Most importantly of all, solutions must ensure that resources are used responsibly and in a circular way that respects the patterns seen in nature. For instance, we recover heat from wastewater in sewer networks and use it to provide other installations with 100% renewable energy (Energido). We collect used cooking oils to reprocess as fuel and use olive cake to provide all the heat needed by Renault’s plant in Tangier.

Veolia has been developing solutions based on the services that nature provides for a number of years. We continue to assess their performance in a range of different situations and are working to scale them up as and where possible. These techniques rely on the services that ecosystems have always provided: plant-based water purification, cooling and temperature regulation, flood management and so on. As examples, we offer a plant-based wastewater treatment process (Organica), we can create planted discharge areas (wetlands that promote biodiversity) at wastewater treatment plant outlets, and we can establish wetland areas to help manage flood risks.

These solutions all represent a strategic pivot by Veolia and they are all actively promoted as part of our service offers. Widespread adoption also depends on the degree to which our clients are interested in these types of responses. It is this combination of Veolia’s ambitions with our clients’ willingness to turn to these new solutions that will generate momentum together.