Veolia’s Current Thinking on Sustainability
(3BL Media) August 16, 2012 - In an email interview, we asked Kelly Rooney, director of recycling at Veolia Environmental Services, three questions about the company’s current take recycling and sustainability. Rooney will be speaking at Focal Point 2012: Capitalizing on Sustainable Technology on Oct. 10 in Stevens Point, WI.
WIST: Why is a waste-handling company interested in reducing waste?
Kelly Rooney: Minimizing waste is a top priority for every company, municipality and individual concerned about the planet’s future. Veolia Environmental Services has the unmatched industry experience to ensure the most efficient, viable and cost-effective waste processing solutions are being employed. Our experts evaluate waste streams and provide solutions that reduce overall waste volume and expenses, while minimizing environmental impact.
In addition to waste minimization, Veolia aims to turn waste into a resource. That means converting waste generated by one party into resources for others, and in general, to systematically re-use goods at the end of their life cycle. This is highlighted by our recycling programs and landfill-gas-to-energy projects.
WIST: What sustainability initiatives are currently underway at Veolia?
Kelly Rooney: We believe innovation should underpin our every action to better meet the needs of customers. We are already spearheading a number of future industries in areas such as recycling waste to provide alternative raw materials and promoting energy savings. As many natural resources are in short supply and commodity prices continue to increase, Veolia helps companies find productive uses for discarded materials in place of traditional disposal.
Operationally, we also have many internal sustainability initiatives underway. For example, last March, Veolia Environmental Services North America became a member of the Clean Cities National Clean Fleets Partnership. This program has been implemented by the US Department of Energy to help companies operating large fleets of vehicles to reduce their overall gas consumption. Our newest waste collection fleet of trucks is powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). CNG is the cleanest fossil fuel available today–approximately 90% cleaner than diesel in its natural state. Switching one truck from diesel to CNG is equivalent to:
• Taking 6.8 cars off the road
• Planting 1,606 new trees every year
• Saving 321 barrels of oil per year
WIST: Some PET recyclers have expressed concerns about possible contamination of the PET recycling stream with emerging PLA bioplastic. Does the emergence of new bio-based plastics concern you in any way or with regard to the integrity of the PET recycling stream?
Kelly Rooney: The concern with PLA is that there is a debate about whether it can be mixed in with the current PET recycling stream. There are sorting mechanisms like infrared technology that can separate clear bio-plastic bottles from the regular, petroleum-based type. PLA isn’t a new technology, but has been gaining momentum with the increasing price of petroleum. We are keeping a close watch, but have not noticed a significant amount in the recycling streams we collect.