FAQs

01.Aquassistance is an organisation close to SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT: what is its status, and what does it actually do?

SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has supported Aquassistance since its creation in 1994. This NGO allows our employees to help people in distress around the world,on a voluntary basis.

Aquassistance, which has 650 members today, makes it possible to take action in emergencies and in favour of development aid. Its effectiveness is recognised : since its creation the association has carried out nearly 150 emergency support, development aid and rehabilitation operations. It currently has about 60 development projects under way, with more than a 100 volunteers taking action each year. The volunteers use their spare time (during their retirement or during leave) to apply their skills to the design and installation of drinking water and sanitation distribution systems, as well as training local people to operate and maintain them. The association also carries out information and awareness-raising campaigns on the importance of hygiene and safeguarding water resources.

In its “humanitarian locker” located at Nanterre, the association stores, maintains and prepares the material and equipment required for its operations (mobile water treatment units, pumps, etc.).

A very important point for us is that Aquassistance only intervenes in projects that are completely distinct from the business development of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT.

02.Are private companies the owners of an asset as vital as water?

We are not the owners of the water we distribute. Water in the natural environment, whether in lakes, rivers or water tables, is a renewable resource that belongs to no one: water is not a commodity, but a common good. Similarly, access to drinking water and the sanitation of wastewater is a basic right of every human being.

Our role is different. To allow consumers to have access to drinking water, a public water utility has to be set up, that is, a series of activities and services, that extract water from the natural environment, treat it to make it consumable, transport it to the homes of the consumers, then recover the wastewater and purify it before restoring it to the natural environment. A public water utility – which requires large-scale investment, considerable technological skill, and an on-going quest for quality among other things – can be managed directly by the public authority (in the form of a municipal corporation for example) or delegated to private operators. We intervene within the latter framework.

03.For some, a concession is nothing more than a takeover in the medium and long term of the water operation. What do you reply to that?

First of all, that accusation bears no relation to reality. A concession contract runs for a period of 12 to 30 years, during which time the public authority basically delegates the responsibility for operating and building new works to the private player. The contract also stipulates the rules for changing water rates.

In addition, through the contract, the public authority stipulates the long-term planning objectives, and throughout the concession controls the actions carried out by the private operator. The infrastructures are restored to the authority in full at the end of the contract. Lastly, if it is not satisfied with the services of the private player, it can terminate the concession in accordance with the contractual provisions.

Furthermore, a Public-Private Partnership should not be restricted to the concessionary model alone. Private enterprise can intervene at various levels, ranging from management support, to service and maintenance work, or the construction and operation of technical facilities, to name but a few.

SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has long-standing experience in a wide range of contracts, from management support in Mexico City or Amman, to operation and maintenance in Indianapolis, or delegated management as on the Paris Left Bank.

04.How are unpleasant smells eliminated from landfills?

By using the biogas that produces them. As it ferments, waste produces gas, mainly composed of methane or what is called biogas. This is collected and used to produce energy (heat or electricity). Rainwater running through waste produces a liquid called a leachate, which is collected and treated in sewage plants.

05.How many homes does an incineration plant supply with electricity in treating 250,000 tons of waste a year?

19,000 homes. A plant that treats 250,000 tons of waste a year produces 115,000 MWh, which can be used to supply 19,000 homes with electricity, or a town of 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants.

06.How many planets would we need if all of humanity consumed like we do?

3 planets - compared to 0.45 planet for the African average. We consume more food and we therefore  produce more waste. We also consume more energy and more water.
Simple gestures can help prevent over-packaging or over-use  of plastic bags,we can use our  cars less, or limit the wastage of water and food.

07.How many years does it take to decompose a chewing gum?

50 years.

08.How much waste does a French person produce per day?

1 kg. With the increase in consumption and growth in population, together with  the concentration of households in cities, waste, volume are both increasing(2% per year) and becoming more varied.

09.If water is not a commodity, and if access to drinking water is a basic right, then why should people pay for it?

A water service has a cost : it takes money to carry out the investments required to treat and distribute water, and to ensure the operation of the service.
Public authorities choose the means they use to cover the cost: payment for the service directly by users direct, indirect payment through the taxes levied on each taxpayer, or a combination of both. In addition, certain countries benefit from subsidies provided by international aid mechanisms.

In our opinion, making people pay for water is necessary to avoid wastage and degradation of our common heritage; but that does not mean everyone must pay the same price. To take into account the differences in the capacity of users to pay for water, the authorities in question can, depending on the current legislation, use solidarity pricing (equalisation) and/or, when necessary, subsidies from public authorities (grants).

10.Is the Public-Private Partnership the best model in your opinion? Is it applicable everywhere?

The Public-Private Partnership is not a “model”, but a flexible concept with a wide range of contractual forms; each one of them has its own area of relevance, and all are not applicable everywhere.

For us, however, a basic virtue of a PPP is that it is based on a contract with objectives decided by and between a public authority with a service to provide and an operator with the skills to do so, which clearly stipulates the roles and responsibilities of both.

The technological expertise of private operators, the innovative quality of the solutions they can provide, in complex geographical or demographic situations in particular, as well as their culture based on customer relations, are all guarantees of effectiveness and quality both for the public authority and for the end-consumer.

For these various reasons, we think Public-Private Partnerships should develop in the coming years.

11.Private players in water are often accused of not being sufficiently transparent and even lacking rigorous ethics. What have you done recently in this field?

We are extremely vigilant with respect to all issues related to ethics. We scrupulously follow the Ethics Guidelines of the SUEZ Group, which precisely define what is and is not acceptable in terms of commercial or relational behaviour. In addition, we have set up a network of deontologists responsible for ensuring that SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT and each of its affiliates are beyond reproach as regards ethics.

The vast majority of the international invitations to tender to which we reply are based on a highly regulated framework with extremely strict rules that we apply with the greatest rigour. The transparency of public utility operators is a requirement increasingly demanded by the general public, and we endeavour to put that into practice:
- by providing public access to our  contracts when this is possible under the relevant regulations,

- by taking initiatives designed to give greater account of our activities, for example by standardising our performance indicators with those of other operators.

12.To what extent can household packaging products be reduced using the Cyclabelle dustbin, invented by SITA?

By a factor of 4, thanks to an automatic compaction system that reduces the volume of packaging products,and also reduces the number of trips made by collection trucks thereby helping to protect the environment.

13.What are our dustbins most filled with?

Packaging products (32%). Our dustbins contain more and more packaging products and less and less organic matter (vegetables, plants, etc).

14.What do you do at SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT to analyse and improve the social and environmental impacts of your activities?

At SUEZ ENVIRONMENT, we are convinced that we should be fully accountable where social and environmental issues are concerned. In order to be consistent and effective, that commitment must be made tangible at every level of the company.

To guide our action we have developed a road map, based on the main issues in sustainable development. The map comprises 52 commitments, together with concrete objectives to be attained by 2011. Progress can be measured using more than 100 indicators. Each of our affiliates must adapt the road map to the issues with which they are specifically concerned.

We are also regularly assessed by an independent committee of experts, the FAC (Foresight Advisory Council), which comprises elected officials and academics, as well as the members of NGOs and other large companies. These experts examine most of our major projects, including the company’s strategic plan, at two annual sessions. Their remarks help us progress by taking into account the impact of our activities and developing the keys to solve them.

We also encourage individual initiatives by our associates. For example, we support Aquassistance, an NGO set up by SUEZ ENVIRONMENT employees, who voluntarily offer their spare time (during their retirement or leave) and their know-how to serve development projects or provide emergency aid in crises such as during the tsunami in Asia.

15.What is Diester?

A biofuel made by blending canola seed with 30% gas oil. Diester reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases by 25%. SITA, a subsidiary of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, is developing the use of this biofuel for its collection trucks.

16.What is the difference between waste recycling and waste recovery?

Recycling involves manufacturing a new material based on an existing material already in use. For example, using the plastic bottles used for household or healthcare products (detergents, shampoo, etc.) can be transformed into  garden furniture.
Recovery is the transformation of waste into a new resource (such as energy or manure). For example, the waste burnt in incineration plants is transformed into energy (electricity or heat).

17.What is the percentage reduction in waste produced by incineration?

70%. Blast-furnace slag, the residue obtained by the combustion of waste, is recovered to be use in civil engineering (mainly to build roads).

18.What is your position with respect to the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to decrease the number of citizens in the world who do not have access to safe water?

We adhere to the objective to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water or basic sanitation by 2015. When we are involved in developing countries, we consider that our role is to help achieve that aim. For instance, our “Water for All” programme has enabled several million of the poorest people to have access to drinking water in Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Casablanca, Manila, and La Paz. These projects were developed with local governments and international co-operation agencies. In 2004, the UNDP – the United Nations Development Program – distinguished our program by awarding it the “World Business Award in support of the Millennium Development Goals”.

Our contribution may be  modest when compared to  the scale of the worldwide problem and could  undoubtedly be improved. However, it shows that the Millennium Goals can be reached, and even bettered, when public authorities, local communities and private operators take action and work together. Our employees in the field are proud of those achievements.

19.What is your reply to opponents who think that public management of water results in a lower price for water services?

Comparing the price of water levied by public management and delegated management systems has no meaning on a national scale. Each local situation is different: water can be abundant and accessible in one area, and rare and poor quality in another. In addition the price rates have to be carefully compared, as well as the costs borne by taxpayers and those that are paid direct by end-users… It makes for a  complex discussion.

Various examples show that in highly developed states as well as in emerging countries, there are no grounds for criticism of private enterprise of that kind.
In Bolivia, for example, the comparative study undertaken in 2004 by the public institution regulating the water service indicated that our subsidiary, Aguas del Illimani, had the lowest price rate per m3 of drinking water for domestic customers in the country’s cities even though all the other operators were public corporations or cooperatives.

Similarly, in Buenos Aires, the price charged by Aguas Argentinas was the one of the lowest in all the cities of Latin America.

In the United States, it has been found that Public-Private Partnerships between municipal authorities and companies can save between 10% and 40% of the costs compared with municipal management systems alone. These savings are realised through economies of scale, effective cost control, innovation and proper asset management practices.

In France, where the water supply for three-quarters of the population is managed by the private sector, the average price of water is lower than in other European countries dominated by the public management system.

Lastly, it is worth noting that private operators are called upon more frequently in communities confronted with difficulties such as the scarcity or vulnerability of the resource, or the complexity of the systems that have to be managed, or infrastructure delays due  to the scale of investment required.

20.When you sign a partnership with a public authority, does it keep control?

Partnerships between public authorities and private operators, whatever their purpose or content, do not mean private enterprise replaces the public corporation.

The public authority remains the only decision-taker with regard to service methods and any social arbitration the service may require. It is the only authority qualified to set the price rate structure and the rules for changing it as part of the contract; it defines the priorities in terms of improving the service, the operating areas as well as the assessment methods.

Lastly, as part of a delegated management contract, the infrastructures continue to be owned by the public authorities.

21.Which materials can be recycled infinitely?

Glass, aluminium and steel.

22.Which recycled material is used to make our fleece sweaters?

Plastic bottles, commonly known as PET.

23.01. What will happen to the fractional allocation rights I hold?

After the spin-off, the fractional allocation rights were listed as of 23 October 2008 on the delisted securities compartment for a period of 20 months and then permanently removed from the list on 22 June 2010.

 

The bank in charge of the operation has completed the sale of unclaimed shares for the compensation for unexercised rights. As part of the cancellation of the rights, each allocation right holder has been compensated in exchange for the rights. The SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT allocation right, ISIN code FR0010614115, was compensated as follows:
€ 3.611360 + € 0.325 (proportion of dividend) i.e. total compensation is € 3.93636 per allocation right.
 

24.02. What is the procedure for obtaining compensation for fractional allocation rights?

Compensation is performed by CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST on presentation of the certificate received from Euroclear France for dematerialized securities and the coupons SUEZ Paper No. 27 for allocation rights.
Allocation rights holders have no special formality to carry out.

On 22 July 2010, they were compensated for the amount retained in compensation of the withdrawal of their allocation rights.

25.03. What are the advantages of registered shares?

When you hold directly or intermediary registered shares, you benefit from the following advantages:

  • easier access to General Meetings: since you are a known shareholder, the meeting convening notice is sent to you direct and you therefore have no particular formalities to carry out.
  • easier access to information, for shareholders with at least 25 shares. You automatically become a member of the Shareholders Club and receive all the information memoranda which the company publishes for its shareholders.

 

Holding directly registered shares also gives you an additional advantage, since SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT takes charge of your custodial fees and management costs.

26.04. How can I opt for directly registered shares?

If you already hold SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT shares and you wish to transfer them to directly registered shares, simply send a written request to your financial intermediary. To simplify the process, download and fill in the registered share transfer request form.

Your financial intermediary will then undertake the necessary steps* with CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST, the financial institution commissioned by SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT to manage its registered share accounts. On receipt and acceptance of your request by CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST, the Securities Department will send you the corresponding share registration certificate and will become your sole intermediary.

The contact details of CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST are as follows:

CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST
Relations Investisseurs SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT
14 rue Rouget De Lisle
92862 Issy-les-Moulineaux Cedex 9
Tel: +33 (0)1 57 78 34 44
Fax: +33 (0)1 49 08 05 80
e-mail: ct-contact@caceis.com

* Your financial intermediary is liable to invoice the expenses for this transaction.

27.05. Is it possible to buy pure registered shares direct?

The direct purchase of pure registered shares from CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST is not possible.

The procedure is as follows:

You must initially proceed to purchase SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT COMPANY shares through your usual financial intermediary and register these shares on a securities account.

You must then request the transfer of these shares to CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST as directly registered shares. To do so, simply send a written request to your financial intermediary. To simplify the process, download and fill in the registered share transfer request form.

Your financial intermediary will then take charge of all the requisite formalities (*) with CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST. On receipt and acceptance of your request by CACEIS CORPORATE TRUST, the Securities Department will send you the corresponding share registration certificate and will become your sole intermediary for the purchase or sale of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT shares.

* Your financial intermediary is liable to invoice the expenses for this transaction.

28.06. Does registration as a directly registered shareholder cost anything?

Your financial intermediary may invoice expenses for the transfer; do not forget to ask your intermediary to specify how much it will cost.

You should remember however that one of the advantages of being a directly registered shareholder is that custodial fees are borne by the Company.

29.07. Does a directly registered shareholder automatically become a member of the Shareholders Club?

No, that is not enough; you must also hold at least 25 SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT COMPANY shares.

In this case only, registration as a member of the Shareholders Club is automatic and does not require any other formality on your behalf.

30.08. What is the price of the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT COMPANY share to be retained for the wealth tax declaration?

You should retain the closing price as at 31/12/2008, i.e. € 12.05; this price is lower than the average for the 30 last sessions of the Stock Exchange in 2008, which stood at € 12.409.

We remind you that the French Tax Authorities allow you to opt for the lower of these 2 values.

31.09. How can I obtain Shareholder publications?

Please request our shareholder publications via the following toll-free number (+33 for France) 0 800 207 207 or download the documents via the Shareholders Publications page.

If you are a member of the Shareholders Club, all the SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT Shareholders Publications are sent to you.

32.10. Should I renew my membership in the Shareholders Club after 2 years? How should I proceed?

The SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT Shareholders Club has changed the terms of membership. Membership now becomes effective on the date of receipt of the completed registration form and is valid as long as the Club member meets the admission requirements and has not requested his/her deregistration, rather than the two-year period initially adopted when the Shareholders Club was first set up.