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RECAPP by Veolia eyes government collaboration to develop waste management solutions

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RECAPP by Veolia eyes

In an exclusive interview with ESGMena.com, RECAPP by Veolia General Manager Jérôme Viricel spoke about the company’s new B2B digital recycling platform, the importance of a circular economy, and how his company is driving change in the region.

RECAPP is a waste management company run by the French company Veolia, that collects, sorts, and transports recyclable material. Early this month, it launched its B2B platform, GoRECAPP.com, which allows businesses to schedule collection of paper, plastic, and batteries, as well as deploy recycling boxes on their premises.

Viricel dived into the issues facing the business, saying that one of the main challenges for recycling in the region continues to be the lack of awareness surrounding the segregation of trash, which means that most recyclable material ends in landfills.

“It means that we need to be able to catch these recyclables…with plastic bottles, for example, maybe less than 15% are collected and then recycled. So it means that you have 85 percent of this recyclable material where you don’t know where it will end up – maybe in landfills but definitely not in the local economy.”

Segregation of trash is important, not just for recycling, but as a data collection point, because it can aid in correctly estimating how many kilos or tonnes of paper and other materials were recycled, said Viricel.

So how is RECAPP by Veolia’s business model feasible? First of all, the collection of waste from houses and individuals is free of charge. This, according to Viricel, is not a waste of money, because it was an “investment to see how the market reacts. And we saw a very, very enthusiastic response from the individuals downloading and using the app.”

This large volume of users allowed RECAPP by Veolia to build a customer base that could then be used to foray into the B2B market.

“So the challenge then for us as Veolia is to have an expansion in the number of users in order to reduce our operational costs and to continue to provide at least a part of the service for free and to embark into the private sector.”

Meanwhile, RECAPP by Veolia has different recycling solutions that businesses can opt for, which serve as subscriptions for different types of boxes. These can be for different types of waste, and the collection can be scheduled on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis.

Besides this, companies may also financially support part of RECAPP’s expenses.

“The ROI [for the companies] is very clear and simple,” says Viricel, giving an example of recycling plastic bottles.

“We capture feedstock of plastic bottles from households and divert them away from the landfill. Companies can build this tangible action into their own sustainability strategy, telling an authentic story without greenwashing.”

The company also bridges the gap between businesses and recyclers, by collecting waste and transporting it to recycling companies.

“RECAPP by Veolia is an opportunity for businesses to support an initiative which takes measurable action on the field, enabling the collection of the plastic bottles that they produce and put on the market. With this feedstock, if we obtain enough volume and receive the sponsorship and support of other companies in the private sector, then we can continue to scale up the project.” The RECAPP by Veolia app also supports advertising for brands who are interested in doing so.

Additionally, RECAPP now offers a brand program that allows businesses to set up recycling boxes in their own stores or in the stores of their retail partners to collect used goods brought back by customers.

RECAPP was launched in November 2020. Citing statistics in its press release, RECAPP claimed that it has “built a community of over 40,000 registered users and collected 500 tonnes of recyclables and over 25 million bottles and cans. On average, RECAPP by Veolia completes 2,300 collections per week with 115,000 collections honoured to date and over 5.5 kg per collection with a rejection rate of less than 4 percent.”

The company also says its website dashboard will allow customers to automate and digitise operations fully. Meanwhile, the redesigned RECAPP by Veolia app, which will launch on 3 December this year, will allow customers to view the impact of their recycling solutions.

The dashboard will also help measure the KPIs necessary to track companies’ ESG targets like measuring carbon emissions. They will be able to embed their target trackers into their websites as well, apart from being able to use the app for advertisements.

Viricel stressed that the essence of RECAPP is the “preservation of the planet by spreading awareness to the whole community through a digital tool to improve waste collection services in the UAE.”

The next logical step for Veolia seems to be establishing a PET factory in UAE, but Viricel declined to give further comments about the plan which is still in talks. However, Viricel is positive that the UAE market has the potential for a PET factory to be established by Veolia.

More importantly, RECAPP is hopeful that it will be able to secure collaboration with local municipalities.

“Having been endorsed by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, we can utilize their support in order to convince the other emirates to start [working] with us.”

Viricel is positive that the volume RECAPP by Veolia will collect next year will reach over 1,000 tonnes. Currently, RECAPP collects 15 tonnes of recyclables every week.

The company also says that during festivities and holidays, trash collection increases significantly. In a statement to esgmena.com, Veolia representatives said that “we encourage citizens to collect more during these periods. For example, we have organized a charity campaign during Ramadan with the Al Ain water company to encourage recycling and we have collected 3869 KG of recyclables in one month.”

He also hopes that instead of viewing RECAPP as a competitor, governments and municipalities in the UAE can collaborate to collect waste. This can be done through various ways like working with the police to ensure that RECAPP drivers have appropriate space to park and collect items.

“It’s complicated because when you are in the private sector, it means that in a way you are a competitor of other waste management companies. But we don’t want other waste management companies to see RECAPP as a competitor. We want them to see us as a solution.”

“We’ll work with the recyclers and waste management companies available on the market in order to provide solutions for the community…[RECAPP] is a digital platform enabling the connection between different stakeholders.”

Stressing the importance of recycling, Viricel explains that terminology matters. Plastic, paper, and batteries are “not a waste, by the way. It’s an end-of-life product,” said Viricel, using a term that will encourage consumers to recognise that products can be recycled and given a new life.

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