Veolia celebrates 170 years of innovation

170 years Veolia: woman in period dress

In December, Veolia proudly celebrates 170 years of existence, an anniversary marked by a pioneering spirit and an unwavering commitment to preserving the environment.

Born at the heart of the first industrial revolution, on December 14, 1853, under the name Compagnie Générale des Eaux, Veolia has built an exciting adventure in the service of the environment. 170 years later, the Group continues to innovate and to shape the world of tomorrow, a world that works for ecological transformation. Let's continue along this path and keep transforming the impossible into the possible. 

From Compagnie Générale des Eaux to Veolia: an evolutionary path

Founded in France in 1853, Veolia made history by bringing water to the heart of cities, helping to eradicate cholera and increase life expectancy. Over the decades, the company has expanded into waste management and energy production, while remaining at the forefront of social progress. 

Guided by a pioneering spirit, Veolia is constantly committed to human progress. Today, it grants a similar set of rights to its teams around the world and is preparing to take up the major challenges facing humanity, such as decarbonising, depolluting and regenerating the world, in order to lead the ecological transformation.

Putting people at the heart of ecological transformation

Veolia's history has been woven over time by ten generations of entrepreneurs, men and women forming truly visionary teams. These teams have developed new activities by building on older ones, acting as pioneers who have imagined avant-garde solutions. These solutions emerged from the observation of changing needs, often catalysed by crises such as the epidemics of the 19th century, geopolitical tensions or energy-related challenges.

Veolia, which has become an undisputed global player in ecological transformation, has never lost sight of its commitment to local communities. The Group pays particular attention to meeting its clients' challenges with a territorial, case-by-case approach. Trust, humanity and the social dimension are at the heart of its relationships, whether with its employees or the communities it serves.

At the crossroads of its three original businesses - water, waste management and energy - Veolia has developed a concept of the environment that starts with the territory. We are the opposite of a deterritorialized company that would extract value from the territories in which it operates: we bring them the best of global expertise to create value locally, and enable them to overcome the challenges that are specific to them.
Estelle Brachlianoff, Chief Executive Officer of Veolia

Water, Waste, Energy: The founding pillars


Water, Veolia's origin, was crucial in the construction of the water network in France. Since its creation, the company has broadened its scope to include wastewater treatment, resource protection and wastewater recycling. 

Today, faced with the challenges of climate change, Veolia is embarking on new avenues to ensure sustainable management of this vital resource.

Waste management

Veolia offers complete solutions, from collection to energy recovery. Veolia uses advanced technologies to treat waste, encouraging recycling, reuse and material recovery. 

The Group is committed to designing innovative solutions to reduce waste production at source and encourages the recycling of materials, thereby promoting sustainability throughout the product life cycle.


Veolia stands out for its efforts to improve energy efficiency, promote renewable energies and develop cogeneration solutions. 

The company is involved in energy distribution, energy waste treatment and promotes the transition to more sustainable energy models. By focusing on efficiency, renewable energy production and integrated resource management, Veolia is actively contributing to the global energy transition towards a greener economy.

Innovating in adversity

Veolia's history has been marked by events, crises and challenges that have acted as catalysts for innovation. From the cholera epidemics of the 19th century to contemporary droughts, typhus epidemics and geopolitical tensions, every crisis has been an opportunity to innovate. The failures that are inherent in any process of innovation have often paved the way for new progress, a testament to Veolia's resilience and determination.

Innovation is inherent in the Group's activities and vision. Veolia integrates advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation to optimise its services. Veolia also fosters innovation through partnerships and collaborations with external players, strengthening its ability to address complex resource management challenges. This global approach positions the Group as a key player in the development of sustainable and innovative solutions to today's environmental challenges.

A local vision combined with a global impact

Veolia stands out for its approach to the environment, which is rooted in local communities. The Group brings the world's best expertise to bear locally, creating value and helping communities overcome their specific challenges. This multi-local approach has been anchored since the Group's inception. Today, all geographies benefit from Veolia's expertise, becoming in turn innovation laboratories for an ecology of solutions. Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia's Chief Executive Officer, embodies this vision. Under her leadership, Veolia is evolving to become a key player in the ecological transformation.

A chronology of innovation

Veolia's history unfolds like a chronological fresco, punctuated by significant events:

1853:Creation of the Compagnie Générale des Eaux by decree of Napoleon III.

1880: First international expansion in Venice, followed by Constantinople and Porto.

1937: Léon Dewailly crée Chauffage Service, spécialisée en chauffage et climatisation.

1964: French Water Framework Act, introducing the "polluter pays" concept.

1973: Sarp Industries founded to treat hazardous waste.

2002:Accelerated international expansion, with projects in Namibia, the Middle East and China.

2022: Acquisition of Suez's main international activities and initiatives to deal with the drought in France.

2023: Construction of the first battery recycling plant in Moselle and contract to operate a desalination plant in Abu Dhabi.

Veolia's 170th anniversary is a celebration not only of the company's history, but also of its ongoing commitment to innovation and the preservation of the environment. Veolia has evolved, pushing boundaries and paving the way for a more sustainable future. Building on its past, the company is ready to shape a sustainable and desirable future.

Dive into the heart of Veolia's history:

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