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Veolia Environmental Services: A Key Role in Turn-Key Recycling Solutions

With technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, a full-time customer service team and invaluable liability protection, there is a reason why Veolia Environmental Services has proved to be an important partner for the electrical distribution and lighting industries.
As the largest environmental services company in the world, Veolia is backed by over 150 years of history, dating back to the founding of a European operation in the 1850’s in Paris. Since then, Veolia has become synonymous with prepaid lamp, ballast, battery and electronics recycling. Veolia’s award-winning recycling program, RecyclePak®, is endorsed as the preferred lamp recycling kit by most lamp manufacturers.
Customers take comfort in Veolia’s knowledgeable staff and their particular expertise in the various rules, regulations and laws that can dictate a customers’ recycling and disposal practices. Veolia has four strategically-located recycling centers in the U.S. Their facilities are located in Port Washington, Wisconsin, Tallahassee, Florida, Stoughton, Massachusetts and Phoenix, Arizona. 
Mark Braniff, national account manager, electronics recycling, explains that any fluorescent lamp or anything that has a battery can be recycled using their services. He estimates that currently as many as 50 IMARK members utilize their services.
“Veolia recycles fluorescent lamps, PCB and non-PCB ballasts, household, commercial and industrial batteries, power distribution equipment such as transformers, and even computers,” said Braniff. “We’re a national organization with a high level of expertise. Our liability protection is second to none. Because of our strength and size, we have industry-leading insurance protection that becomes important to our clients as they seek to comply with various rules and regulations.” Veolia’s long-term environmental liability is backed by roughly $50 billion in revenues worldwide.
Braniff noted that the United States operates on a “cradle to grave” law, meaning once you produce waste with hazardous materials, you are essentially responsible for it forever.
“The extent of how many customers use our services really hinge on the regulations in place in those states,” he explained. “Because of the dangers of mercury contamination, California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and parts of Florida have banned all mercury-containing lamps from landfills, so customers in those areas already have to abide by the law and IMARK members can immediately benefit from that.”
In states even where strict regulations do not exist, customers are still responsible for their waste “cradle to grave” and distributors can still take advantage and sell recycling services.
To help customers document their participation in recycling and disposal, Braniff noted that Veolia has an excellent computer tracking system that dates back over 10 years of services provided.
“We can offer reports with solid numbers that back up and support how much waste is being recycled,” he said. “A state regulator recently asked us for data on a recycling project from 2005. We were able to get that data immediately to the customer. The data helps customers refute any claims that they are not complying properly.”
Veolia is able to provide data not only on how much waste was recycled and disposed of, but also what type of waste was recycled or disposed of through their Customer Information Management Solutions (CIMS). CIMS improves customer’s ability to manage environmental services data directly, while remaining in compliance with applicable regulations, ultimately lowering the cost of doing business.
Veolia’s lamp recycling process recovers in excess of 99 percent of a fluorescent lamp, by a process that has remained somewhat unchanged for several decades. Lamps that are intact are sent into a proprietary machine that separates the fluorescent materials, crushed glass, aluminum end-caps and mercury-contaminated phosphorous powder into separate components. The mercury-contaminated phosphor powder is heated in a closed container to extract elemental mercury. Extracted mercury is sent for triple distillation and reuse. Other segregated materials such as aluminum and glass are sent for beneficial reuse and recycling.
But aside from the technical process, Veolia’s RecyclePak® service makes it easy for customers to recycle fluorescent lamps, ballast, batteries and electronics. Companies purchase RecyclePak® containers ahead of time and once it is full, they simply ship it out. One price is all-inclusive of the transport and recycling process—packaging, prepaid freight from their facility, processing and certificates of recycling. RecyclePak® containers are UN tested and Department of Transportation (DOT) approved for safe storage and transport of hazardous materials.
Braniff encourages all IMARK members to implement a recycling aspect as part of a more integrated program for their customers. “In this difficult economy, it’s a true opportunity to sell more turn-key services. IMARK members should consider adding recycling/removal to their arsenal of services the same way they would add labor to their supply services,” said Braniff.
Ultimately, Braniff says, partnering with Veolia Environmental Services allows a distributor or manufacturer the opportunity to “walk the walk” when it comes to selling comprehensive green solutions. “Anyone committed to recycling should also lead by example by recycling at their locations. Their employees or customers could bring in any of these materials and they can ship it right to us for recycling,” he added.
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