With 9 million premature deaths in 2015 (16% of all deaths worldwide), pollution is believed to be the biggest cause of illness and premature death today.
If no proactive action is taken by governments and economic actors, this situation is likely to worsen by 2040, particularly because of rapid industrialization in developing countries, the increasing use of new materials and technologies, and the emergence of new pollutants and new pharmaceutical molecules.
Against this backdrop, how do we fight pollution while also allowing global economic and social development to continue?
→ Treat all water pollution
In developing countries, there is an urgent need to treat the massive amount of water pollutants (mainly from people and industry).
In developed countries, the new frontier in the field of water treatment is the treatment of micropollutants – toxins, such as pesticides, herbicides or drug residues, dispersed and present in small quantities in water.
→ Reconcile urban development and soil conservation
Soil pollution, caused by the presence of organic pollutants - mainly hydrocarbons - and non-organic pollutants including heavy metals such as lead, mercury, copper, zinc, etc., present a major risk for human health and, more generally, for the fauna and flora in the ecosystem. In addition, it can hold back the development of cities as polluted land in the urban periphery cannot immediately be exploited for new construction.
Over the next few years, the issue of depolluting old industrial sites as well as supporting industrial players in their strategy in this respect is therefore central.
Up 65% - by 2040, the land remediation market will rise sharply to reach an annual 4.5 billion euros
→ Guarantee indoor and ambient air quality
Air pollution is now a major public health issue. According to the British journal The Lancet, it will cause 7.5 million premature deaths in 2040 - 4.5 million because of ambient air pollution, mainly in developing countries in Asia; and 3 million because of indoor air pollution.
Across the world public awareness is far greater and people are increasingly expressing both concern and a refusal to live in polluted cities. Local authorities are beginning to act at all levels and the trend is clearly towards introducing stricter regulations.
1% of global GDP - the estimated economic cost of air pollution in 2060
Veolia's solutions and experiments for tomorrow's world
Fighting pollution is a historic activity for Veolia. To fight emerging pollution, the Group is already developing innovative experiments and solutions.
- In the field of water, Veolia has conducted a particularly promising experiment on the treatment of drug residues with Skejby Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city. Thanks to the establishment of a traceability and treatment system for drug residues in hospital’s wastewater, as well as in one of the city's wastewater treatment plants, 90% of the drug residues in the municipal wastewater have been eliminated.
Clean Water For The Future, A Challenge For Denmark
- In the field of soil treatment, Veolia has for many years been carrying out major urban clean-up projects. The Group is thus helping to clean up the Grand Paris Express yards. This work will generate 45 million tonnes of rubble; nearly 20 million m3 will be excavated, 10 to 20% more than the annual production of rubble in Île-de-France. Veolia has a waste treatment, storage and recycling network in the region with a capacity of more than 5 million tonnes per year.
The challenges of the Grand Paris Express
- Veolia also conducts experiments in the field of indoor and outdoor air quality.
- In the Middle East, the issue of indoor air quality is of real concern as extreme outdoor temperatures force people to stay inside. That's why teams from the Sheraton Hotel in Dubai called on Veolia to deploy a continuous monitoring system covering a variety of different air quality parameters.
Indoor air quality, a priority for the Sheraton Dubaï
- In terms of ambient air treatment, the Group participated in a project in Manila, Philippines, which was led by the Veolia Foundation in partnership with Médecins du Monde. The goal: identify the main sources of air pollution in a slum area and determine the initial action required to reduce people’s exposure to it.