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How can you develop circular economy models that meet the individual needs of each city or region while at the same time managing major flows?

Veolia provides ongoing access to essential services (water and sanitation, energy and waste management). We manage local resources that are used locally. Water, energy and waste are key to the circular economy. These three, often complementary, resources can be managed synergistically. For example, treating wastewater produces waste (wastewater sludge) that can be recovered as renewable energy, in a local virtuous loop.
With this aim in mind, we carried out major construction and renovation work in 2010 on the Hedong wastewater treatment plant, located near the city of Ürümqi in northwestern China, to meet the strong increase in the need for treating the city’s wastewater. At the same time, sludge treatment installations were built in order to reduce the volume by 30% as well as capture the methane produced by the anaerobic digestion process. The biogas is then used to fuel the plant’s boilers, where a cogeneration system produces both electricity and heat. The system covers the entire site’s heating needs and up to 50% of its electricity needs. By making use of this source of green energy, Veolia has upped the Hedong plant’s autonomy and reduced its CO2 emissions by 80%.

The challenge for each different city or region is to guarantee a lasting, reliable supply. For example, in Pécs, Hungary, we supply Europe’s largest district heating network to be fired by cogeneration using local, renewable biomass energy (straw and wood waste from forestry). We have signed long-term contracts with the region’s farmers and forestry and sawmill operators, creating 270 jobs, to manage the supply chains for straw and wood to fuel the cogeneration plant. Thanks to this system, the city has gained in energy independence and heats 31,000 homes and 450 public buildings while avoiding 400,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent a year.