Water, energy and waste: tomorrow’s winning triptych

At Stockholm, on 31st August, the debate organised by Veolia on the occasion of the “2014 World Water Week” went beyond the mere saving of water, slotting this resource into the new dynamic of the circular economy.

Representatives of Veolia, the World Bank, McKinsey, WWF, the Nature Conservancy, industrials companies such as like Shell and Nestlé, and various public entities, exchanged their respective experiences and strategic choices during the afternoon of 31st August. At the centre of their discussions was water and its future use.

They underlined the crucial place of water, transporting material and energy, in the implementation of the circular economy.

For Veolia, who organised the seminar, as well as for the participants, a panel of solutions already exists to deal with growing water stress and meet the challenge of the circular economy from the integrated management of the resource to the recycling of used water. The traditional linear approach for each water silo needs to be broken, not envisaging the management of waste, water and energy separately, but favouring partnerships.

Water at the heart of the Circular Economy (4.98 MB)
Several examples were cited to back up the implementation of an industrial and economic approach in a virtuous cycle. Veolia shared its experience with oil refineries in the United States, with a technology, allowing the recovery of 95% of the potassium hydroxide (KOH) used by nearly half of them in their refinery. This solution does not entail any dangerous waste escaping into the water, and reduces the resources needed for production of new KOH. Result: 34% of energy and 50,000m³ of water saved each year.
This integrated approach to water-energy waste resources is, according to the group, a key to the success of the circular economy, but it must be combined with a strategy allowing economic and social synergies to be developed. For that, the debate also covered the role of places, and in particular towns, in this paradigm shift. Bringing together all the protagonists – citizens, industries, public infrastructures – the towns have a unique opportunity to guide this effort of coherent integration.

For Veolia, towns and businesses must rethink their methods of production and consumption, by planning for the circular economy on a local level and by guiding the reflexes of citizenship behaviour.

> Watch the conference animated by Veolia at the World Water Week