Economy – How the recycling business is building a future

According to Ademe, the environment agency, 66% of the 342 million tonnes of waste produced in 2018 was recycled. The recycling activity is establishing itself in the territories and takes on a variety of activities against the backdrop of a new industry.

recycling activitybrings together the actions of collection, sorting and recovery of raw materials into secondary materials, explains Olivier Rabotin, manager of the Carcassonne group Valoridec, which specializes in this sector. At the same time, there is also the reuse activity, where waste is treated and reused on site. These two activities contribute to reducing the volume of waste, limiting the impact on the environment.”

The treatment of waste by the action of recycling leads today to the development of economic activity and jobs, often inclusive with the presence of actors from the social and solidarity economy, on the territories. Communities and companies are mobilizing. Recently, the municipality of Ouveillan (Aude) inaugurated a storage platform for rubble and green waste which, once treated, will be used for road works and earthworks. This waste often comes from construction sites which constitute the largest volume of waste to be treated (240 million tonnes per year) as specified by Ademe.

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Industrial producer of material

An observation that prompted the creation of the Carcassonne group Valoridec in the early 2000s. “Founded by my father, the group was a pioneer at the time, explains Olivier Rabotin, leader of the group which now employs 80 people and is present on various sites in Occitanie. We first managed waste from the construction sites of construction companies. We first treated rubble, then wood, plastic, scrap metal, green waste, ordinary industrial waste and now plaster. This is to provide a solution to companies that must comply with regulatory changes. These regulations have created opportunities for Valoridec for treatment channels at the local level.”

We talk less about waste but about recycling

The group currently processes several thousand tons of waste per year and the volumes to be processed are increasing in the face of environmental and climate challenges. “The group is growing and is struggling to recruit like many sectors that have a bad image, even if it evolves since the Covidcontinues the leader. The awareness of the environment, the difficulties of supply, the rise in the price of raw materials means that we talk less about waste but about recycling. Our business is changing. We are manufacturers in the production of materials. The materials that we recycle, such as plaster or plastic, go back to manufacturers in Occitanie, particularly in Hérault, Gard and Haute-Garonne.. Our integrated laboratory guarantees product quality and traceability.” Valoridec is planning a new location in Occitanie in 2023-2024, which could create between 10 and 20 new jobs.

Respond to new consumption patterns

Other companies are involved in the reuse which is now part of the new modes of consumption. Among them, the Héraultais Sofi Group (group Econocom, headquartered in Saint-Mathieu-de-Treviers), specializes in the multi-brand refurbishment of smartphones and in their resale under the Smaaart brand..

Valoridec has become an industrial producer of materials.

evolving in a context of growth in the market for refurbished smartphones in France (+10% in 2020), the group has developed industrial know-how. After smartphones and tablets, it is tackling the reconditioning of PC computers. Sofi Groupe handled 120,000 units in 2021 and should see its activity grow by 200,000 additional units contributed by its new majority shareholder Econocom. Its workforce – 114 employees – is expected to double within two years. In 2021, the group had already outperformed the market with a 55% increase in activity (more than 21 million euros in turnover) due in particular to the evolution of customer profiles (60% individuals and 40% companies /local authorities) and an opening to the Spanish market.

Sofi Groupe invests every year in R&D to make its refurbished products more reliable, maintain a technological advantage over the competition or even improve its productivity. Whether they evolve in recycling or reuse, companies involved in waste treatment are committed to an approach that respects the environment associated with a strong social impact on the territories. They are paving the way for a new industrial era.

66% of waste recycled

According to Ademe, the environment agency, 342 million tonnes of waste were produced in 2018, including 240 million tonnes from construction, 72 from businesses (excluding construction) and 39 from households. 66% of waste is recycled (+11% in ten years) and 6% enters the energy recovery circuits (+48% in 10 years). The rest of the waste is simply eliminated by landfill or incineration (-21% in 10 years). The recycling activity supplies up to 71% the paper industry, 46% the steel industry, 61% the glass industry and 14.5% the plastics industry.

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