Veolia: 25 Years Transforming Waste Into Resources
SAN JUAN — Some 25 years ago, pharmaceutical and biomedical companies in Puerto Rico needed a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner in which to dispose of their operations’ waste byproducts. They did not have to look far, due to previous experience in other locations, since they knew Veolia Environmental Services LLC was the go-to company for its commitment to the reuse, recuperation and recycling of these materials.
“Not only are our clients confident that we will handle these materials in a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly manner, but we also go beyond that and aim to transform that waste into a reusable resource,” said Tomás Rivera, business manager for the Veolia branch in Puerto Rico. “This is much more than just picking up refuse because we carry out a thorough evaluation on the byproducts of that client’s operations to see in what way this waste can be transformed into raw materials for other processes.”
Veolia has a transshipment facility in Gurabo, where material picked up from clients throughout the island is taken and processed. The company exports some 50 million pounds of waste a year to its New Jersey processing plant, of which about 80% is reused as materials to produce energy. Thus, through its service, Veolia fulfills its motto of “resourcing the world.”
“Our approach is different from what you can call a lineal economy in which producers used to take the raw matter, manufacture a product and then the resulting matter is discarded as waste,” Rivera said. “We work with clients in a circular economy where we want to ensure the waste is not waste, but useful matter that can be used by other companies.”
Rivera said Veolia’s clients range from large manufacturing operations, to midsize and small clients such as workshops and even laundries. “No matter the size of a client’s operations, if their operation produces waste such as chemicals, we are there to more than help them dispose of it. We are there to transform it into a reusable resource,” Rivera said. “We do all this while complying with the most stringent regulations, and with our experienced and knowledgeable technicians.”
In fact, Veolia stands apart from the rest in the industry as the environmental company on the island with the highest standing awarded by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration.
“Our goal is to exceed the client’s expectations, and we go beyond being just an added value to their operations, of just picking up their waste, with personal attention that addresses each client’s needs,” Rivera said. “Remember, not only is each client unique, but they also have to comply with very strict regulations. As part of our mission, we really get to know their operations, and they trust we will efficiently handle the management of their operations’ byproducts.”
Another area where Veolia stands out is in handling electronic waste, or e-waste, which can range from discarded cellphones to computers. At its Port Washington facility in Wisconsin, Veolia carries out a safe disassembly of these objects and rescues materials such as mercury, tin, gold and silver, which may be used as raw materials in other industries.
Essential to Veolia’s success in both Puerto Rico and the world, is a company culture that Rivera said is something that each employee embodies.
“We are 19 employees, and each one of us lives and breathes a commitment to do a job well done, especially when our work not only benefits our client’s operations, but also for what it means for the environment,” Rivera said.