The next Assises des déchets will address the issue of the pollution of the sea trough the eyes of key players. It is a top-level issue for professionals like SUEZ, which have taken multiple initiatives to address it. Here is an overview with Philippe Maillard, managing director of recycling and recovery activities of SUEZ in France.
A recent study has estimated that over 150 million tons of plastic are drifted at sea and that, by 2050, if nothing changes, the oceans will contain more plastic than fishes! "There is other waste at sea, including liquids, due to the degassing of ships, but plastic represents 80% of this pollution and a major concern to the international community", said Philippe Maillard, managing director for recycling and recovery of SUEZ in France.
It is a key issue for the group, and its dual expertise on water treatment and waste recovery enables it to propose concrete solutions to companies and to local authorities to limit the quantity of plastic dumped into the sea. The objective is to treat the problem at its source by acting upon its root causes instead of its consequences.
Therefore, in 2014, SUEZ launched the Ecoseastem research programme, in relation with two major sources of water pollution: heavy rains and washing machines. "During major rainfall events, urban runoff takes much waste away. To filter it, we propose an innovative solution, Cyclonesep (see video below). In order to anticipate these extreme weather conditions with predictive models and to control the quality of the drinkable water network in real time, we also developed the software suite Aquadvanced, which is used in Bordeaux and Marseille."
SUEZ have also been working on the impact of washing machines: their use gives way to the dumping of 220,000 textiles fibres per day and per inhabitant into the waste water networks. "A standard modern waste water treatment facility is only able to filter 80% of micro-plastics contained in these fibres. On the Haliotis station of Nice, we developed a system that is able to filter 99% of them."
For SUEZ, the challenge is also to improve upstream waste collection, sorting and recycling. "Only 27% of plastics are recycled in France, and it is a major avenue for progress. We have been setting up voluntary collection points on parking lots of supermarkets with the help of Eco-Emballages. This solution called RECO is based on an incentive model: in exchange for their recyclable plastics, the clients receive a purchase voucher to be used in the store. It’s a more selective and thus very qualitative collection, and three million plastic bottles get collected every month."
SUEZ has also sought to modernise both their sorting centres and their plastic recycling plants (five in France, a dozen in Europe). As a Group committed to innovation, they have created a laboratory dedicated to plastic, the Plast’lab, and have developed partnerships with companies like Renault in order to have recycling constraints taken into account from design onwards. Very recently, SUEZ and TerraCycle also announced their collaboration with Head&Shoulders for the launch of the first recyclable bottle of shampoo, 25% of which is made with plastic collected on… beaches. A beautiful example of a virtuous circle.
For more information : www.suez.com
The last edition of the magazine Open Resource published by SUEZ was about pollution of the oceans. You may browse through it: