30 March 2021 by Joshua Doherty

Veolia-Suez deal ‘would boost UK recycling’

Veolia’s chief operating officer, Estelle Brachlianoff said today that the company’s proposal for a merger with Suez would allow the UK to ‘more rapidly’ reach its recycling goals.

Mrs Brachlianoff knows the UK well – for many years she was responsible for the territory as Veolia’s executive vice president for the UK and Ireland. Her comments on the recycling goals came in response to a question posed by letsrecycle.com on the impact of the potential merger at a question and answer session in Paris, held online this morning (30 March).

Estelle Brachlianoff / Veolia-Suez conference

Estelle Brachlianoff who is now chief operating officer at Veolia

On the UK impacts of the proposed merger, she said: “We have important ambitions in the UK in terms of recycling. There is funding, political will and an industrial need in the UK which means Veolia and Suez could help us develop these solutions for more and more clients, including for very short-term and hands-on solutions.

“You can make alternative fuel from waste, alternative coal fuel, which still exists in the UK, to supply heating and energy. We know 10% of the energy demands in the UK can be met with biomass and we can duplicate these solutions.

“For plastic recycling, the UK has very strong ambitions and it’s model is similar to the EU. By combining our forces we can meet these goals much more rapidly”.

Below you can hear Mrs Brachlianoff’s response in full.

‘Complementary’

The remarks from Mrs Brachlianoff came after Veolia’s chief executive, Antoine Frérot, also discussed the impact of the proposed merger in the UK earlier in the discussion. (Suez, also a French company, is opposed to the merger or the acquisition of its shares by Veolia).

Responding to a separate question from letsrecycle.com, Mr Frérot said the activities of Veolia and Suez are “complementary” in the UK, and says he feels the British are “looking to the solutions Veolia has to bring them”.

Antoine Frérot/ Veolia-Suez conference

Veolia’s chief executive, Antoine Frérot

He said: “I think the merger will be viewed favourably in the UK. The activities of Veolia and Suez are complementary in the UK. We partook in the revolution of waste recovery seen in the past 20 years. The UK has come a long way and is now one of the most modern countries for waste collection and recovery.

“I think they are still counting on us to go further, to accelerate recycling. We’ve built many plastic recycling plants and also for electronic waste and water. So I think this project will be warmly welcomed.

“We’re also creating a very important tool to train workers in waste management in the UK. There weren’t many before, so we’re setting an example. I think the British are looking to the solutions we have to bring them.”

Merger

Veolia and Suez have been in a constant back-and-forth since Veolia tabled a bid for its French rival in August 2020.

Throughout the process, Suez has said the offer is a “hostile takeover” and the two have often publicly criticised each other.

However, when opening the discussion today, Mr Frérot looked to highlight how the two companies merging would create a “unique opportunity to create a world champion for ecological transformation”.

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