Improving the environmental footprint of facilities and the services offered to local authorities is a major priority of our CSR and Sustainable Development Policies.
The Group’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions involves several approaches: lowering emissions from waste treatment, increasing the amount of avoided emissions through material and energy recovery from waste, and improving the energy efficiency of our facilities.
Protecting biodiversity is also part of the Group’s strategy in terms of reducing its environmental footprint. It includes the generalized rollout of action plans at sites managed by the Group and scientific partnerships in the research, innovation and development fields, as well as a significant contribution to the work currently conducted on the economic valuation of the services provided by ecosystems.
The Group has set a target which consists in achieving by 2016 a ratio of 2 metric tons of greenhouse gases avoided for 1 metric ton emitted in the Waste Europe perimeter.
This ratio worked out at 1.72 in 2013 compared with 1.25 in 2012 within the Waste Europe perimeter. The Group’s contribution to avoided greenhouse gas emissions increased, rising from 5.9 MtCO2e in 2012 to 7.6 MtCO2e in 2013. These results show the increase in waste recovery, whether it involves materials or waste-to-energy (see Commitment 2). At the same time, CO2 emissions amounted to 4.4 million metric tons across the Waste Europe perimeter, compared with 4.7 million metric tons in 2012. In addition to the impact of the economic downturn, this result also reflects the efforts made in order to improve the collection of the methane discharged from landfill sites. The production of useful energy from incineration plants, methanization, or biogas recovery from landfill centers amounted to 5,138 GWh in 2013.
SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT’s performance in terms of CO 2 emissions management and strategy is assessed yearly by the Carbon Disclosure Project . Energy efficiency enhancements also participate to improve the environmental footprint of facilities and services. Such improvements help with meeting both cost andCO2emission reduction targets, primarily for the most energy-intensive processes. Energy consumption stabilized in 2013, at an average of 2.1 MWh per kg of organic load eliminated (DBO5) for wastewater treatment, and of 370 Whe per m3 of drinking water produced.
Biodiversity is a major stake for SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, which is pursuing several goals. The first goal involves protecting, restoring, and promoting biodiversity by implementing action plans at sites identified by the Group as sensitive. As of 2013, 111 action plans were being implemented at these sensitive sites, mostly in partnership with voluntary organizations and expert bodies. In France, for instance, SITA teamed up with the National Natural History Museum to approve and update the national fauna and flora inventories, as well as the inventories for various species’ natural habitats. The second biodiversity target consists in setting-up a a real ecological channel in the Water business. The Group started various research projects in order to improve its understanding of ecosystems, so as to test natural purification processes. In France and in the United States, the Group is also working on environmental offsetting, which consists in financing and carrying out an initiative that at least balances the loss for biodiversity generated by the initial action on the environment. Lastly, the Group takes care of integrating infrastructure into its host environment. Accordingly, SAFEGE and Lyonnaise des Eaux have been involved for the past two years in the Girel Research Program aimed at restoring the environment of the Mediterranean coastline. In Australia, the desalination plant built by Degrémont in Melbourne satisfies this landscape integration requirement thanks to a green roof, an extremely advanced landscape planning process, and a reduction in land use.
“InnoDry 2E,” Degrémont’s new sludge treatment technique, has proved its worth at the Suzhou Industrial Park wastewater treatment plant managed by Sino French Water, a SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT subsidiary. This technique consists in drying waste treatment residues in order to recover them in the form of fuel. After two years in operation, 150,000 metric tons of sludge have been treated using this process, resulting in 41,000 metric tons of avoidedCO2emissions.
A tripartite relationship between GreenVest, a company specializing in ecosystem management, an airport in New Jersey, and United Water, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT’s United States subsidiary, lies at the origin of the plan to restore a 6-hectare wetland.
Indeed, the proposed extension of Teterboro Airport will impinge upon a wetland, so the airport is required to offset the related damage. Meanwhile, United Water owns a wetland area in Closter and Haworth in New Jersey, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. GreenVest has therefore offered to restore and enhance the site to offset the airport extension consequences. Indeed, New Jersey disposes of a highly developed conservation offset banking system. Ultimately, 12 additional acres could be restored. GreenVest will maintain the wetland and monitor the airport extension for five years before handing the wetland over to United Water.
The “Life + Aquaenvec” Project, which was coordinated by Cetaqua, Agbar’s research center, won the 2013 Best Project Award from the European Projects Association. This association supports R&D projects and innovations that are capable of improving living conditions of Europeans. The Cetaqua Project is a water management decisionassistance tool. Based on the fact that this field often lacks of planning and anticipation as regards to the needs of the population, Aquaenvec has the willingness to propose a methodology that enables local authorities and private operators to improve the efficiency of their environmental management systems. The method combines water life cycle assessment tools with a calculation of the related costs. It can be adjusted to local situations and integrate partnerships with the various stakeholders involved.
For economic reasons, sludge digestion processes are often limited to large wastewater treatment plants. At the time of the renewal of the public service delegation contract for the sewage of the urban district of St. Quentin-en-Yvelines, Degrémont has proposed to install a metal digester patented by the company at a medium-size sewage treatment plant (40,000 population equivalent) to boost the plant’s performance thanks to an external supply of fats, oil, and grease (FOG), and to transform the biogas into biomethane for injection into the city gas grid. This innovation was honored at SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT’s 2014 Innovation Awards.