May 28, 2018 / 6:01 AM / 22 days ago

France's Veolia sees opportunity in China's waste crackdown

BEIJING (Reuters) - French water and waste services firm Veolia Environnement SA sees opportunities in China from Beijing’s crackdown on waste imports and is preparing to open a ship-dismantling plant in the south of the country, company executives said on Monday.

China has this year tightened impurity thresholds on waste imports, which have since fallen dramatically, and has banned imports of 16 scrap and waste products from the end of 2018.

“This new law in China offers us ... a lot of opportunities,” Chief Executive Officer Antoine Frerot told Reuters in Beijing.

Describing China’s environmental standards as probably the “highest in the world”, Frerot said he expected the country’s waste crackdown to push the market towards companies offering thorough recycling services, suiting Veolia “compared to the small players which are just collecting and (doing) a bit of sorting”.

Veolia is building a ship-dismantling plant in China’s southern Guangdong province, said Regis Calmels, senior executive vice president, Asia, adding it would be operating in a few months.

Scrap vessels are among the 16 materials and products to be subject to the import ban from the end of this year. A spokeswoman for Veolia said the Guangdong project would focus solely on dismantling Chinese vessels in accordance with Chinese rules.

“Industrial water treatment is developing quickly, so we have strong growth there, but the most booming activity today is hazardous waste treatment,” Frerot continued.

The company already has nine hazardous waste treatment plants in China, with a total capacity of 560,000 tonnes, according to Zhou Xiaohua, senior vice president, China, with another four under construction.

Further down the line, Veolia aims to expand into plastic recycling in China, moving into nuclear waste treatment “one day”, Frerot said.

($1 = 0.8535 euros)

Reporting by Tom Daly; Additional writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

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