News & Events

Tuesday 27 October, 2015

Resource scarcity and what we can do about it

Last week, we hosted the second roundtable in our ‘Rethinking Business’ event series, in partnership with the Financial Times. The event brought together business leaders, NGOs and think tanks to discuss the issue of resource scarcity.  Here, Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President UK & Ireland at Veolia explains how Veolia have embraced the idea of the circular economy and made it the key element of their strategy.

It is becoming clearer and clearer that we are living in a world where our resources are finite. What is encouraging is that there is now a growing recognition in the business community that there is a real business case for acting sustainably and it is no longer just an environmental good cause. 

For our industrial clients or distributors the key commercial arguments include: supply chain security as we start to close the loops; stability against volatility; and shorter more reliable supply chains. As a result companies are increasingly making a real real commitment to sustainability. 

Within Veolia we have embraced the idea of the circular economy and made it the key element of our strategy. It represents 20% of our turnover and will reach 40% by 2020 as we help an increasing proportion of customers embrace it and save resources as a result. 

The circular economy is about moving from a linear model of consumption where resources are used and disposed of to a model where resources can be used over and over again. As such it is integral to meeting the challenges of resource scarcity.

Furthermore, if you take the model of the circular economy to the next step it becomes a model where we design resources at the outset of the production process and then try to ensure those we do use stay in the economy as long as possible.

This is the approach we are taking with many of our commercial and industrial customers today, particularly those involved in distribution where the contribution we can make to improving their supply chain security is a genuine competitive advantage. 

What is heartening to see is so many big businesses embracing the circular economy including Rolls Royce, Philips, Unilever and Nestlé to name but a few. With major blue-chips investing time and resources into making the circular dream a reality, over £29 billion could be contributed to UK GDP and 200,000 new jobs in Britain could be created within the next ten years, an eighth of the current unemployment figures!

The resource industry has a major role to play in ensuring that the commercial benefits of the circular economy are actively promoted. It is not just the ‘green’ credentials that make the circular economy a good deal it’s green products and green energy that will help resolve the problem of scarce resources and according to the World Economic Foundation contribute a trillion dollars every year to the global economy by 2025.

Estelle Brachlianoff

Senior Executive Vice-President UK & Ireland, Veolia

Estelle Brachlianoff leads Veolia’s combined water, waste and energy business in the UK & Ireland. She was appointed to this role in September 2012 and also sits on the Veolia Executive Committee.

Ms Brachlianoff  joined the Veolia group in 2005 as Special Advisor to the CEO of Waste Management. Prior to her current position, she was in charge of Waste Management in the Greater Paris area and also the Facility Management and Cleaning Services branch.

She started her career heading a team managing major infrastructure projects and constructing highways and tramways within the Val D’Oise region of Greater Paris. She was then appointed as Advisor to the regional government in Greater Paris responsible for transport and development.

Ms Brachlianoff was elected as President of the French Chamber of Great Britain, the largest Foreign Chamber of Commerce in the UK. She heads up the Environment Leadership Team for Business in the Community (BITC) and sits on the Infrastructure Board and President’s Committee of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Ms Brachlianoff was awarded the CBI’s’ First Women Business of the Year’ Award in 2014 and was knighted from the French National Order of Merit in 2015.

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