VEOLIA - Justin Grainge

How is Veolia resourcing the UK? Meet Estelle Brachlianoff

Posted on 30 March 2016.

Veolia helps its customers in the UK and Ireland to create value through the circular economy. Meet Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia Senior Executive Vice President for the zone.

So materials that used to be discarded are now recovered, recycled and used in a new production cycle.

A graduate of the prestigious École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and the Ecole Polytechnique in France, Estelle Brachlianoff joined Veolia’s Environmental Services division in 2005. Since 2012, she has headed Veolia UK and Ireland, which employs 14,000 people. Both directly and indirectly Veolia delivers services to half the UK’s population.

Estelle’s vision is for us all to think differently about how we view waste. She wants to show customers that the circular economy is not only viable, but also a powerful competition lever.

Coming full circle and "resourcing the world"

Surprise! Estelle tells us that there is a water shortage in the UK and that the City of London is drier than Sydney or Rome! But at the same time, extreme weather events caused by climate change are becoming more frequent – as demonstrated by the severe floods in the north of England at the beginning of this year. Against this backdrop it is essential to develop more efficient resources management and limit greenhouse gas emissions. Developing the circular economy has emerged as a practical solution.

Estelle says it is a case of "helping customers maintain production while wasting less water, energy and scarce resources". For example, instead of using fossil fuels, waste can be used to produce green energy. The result is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, less pressure on natural resources and less waste. And in doing so, access to sources of energy and reliable district heating is developed.

Paving the way for sustainable solutions

Veolia is now developing all kinds of innovative solutions. Estelle mentions "urban mining", which consists of extracting metals in urban areas and then re-using them. At Ling Hall in Warwickshire Veolia recycles 90% of street sweepings that use to go to landfill. It separates it into 6 different fractions, using two magnets it removes various steels, ferrous and non-ferrous metals from the streets as well as other materials leaving a final dust. Tests have shown that palladium, platinum and rhodium from catalytic converters are in this dust material and Veolia hopes to be able to extract it in the future.

Veolia has implemented numerous circular economy initiatives in the UK: recycling used plastic bags by turning them into refuse sacks under the Bag2Bag programme; helping whisky distilleries and breweries helping recycle waste paint... "So materials that used to be discarded are now recovered, recycled and used in a new production cycle," says Estelle Brachlianoff.

Estelle sums up by pointing out that the benefits are not only for the environment - these solutions also create jobs and economic value locally. Today, 20% of Veolia UK’s activity is circular. The aim is to double that figure by 2020.