Veolia celebrates 170 years of innovation

Veolia celebrates 170 years of innovation

In December, Veolia proudly celebrates 170 years of existence, an anniversary marked by a pioneering spirit and an unwavering commitment to preserving the environment.

Born at the heart of the first industrial revolution, on December 14, 1853, under the name Compagnie Générale des Eaux, Veolia has built an exciting adventure in the service of the environment. 170 years later, the Group continues to innovate and to shape the world of tomorrow, a world that works for ecological transformation. Let's continue along this path and keep transforming the impossible into the possible.

From Compagnie Générale des Eaux to Veolia: pioneers of global ecological transformation

How to decarbonise, decontaminate or regenerate resources: such ecological challenges
are the most critical tests that mankind has ever needed to confront to ensure its future. Reviewing our past enables us to reply to certain vital issues in order to better approach these challenges.

How has it been possible to forge within a single company, by resolving the sanitation problems of different regions, the very concept of the environment, combining the management of water with that of waste and energy? Over these last 170 years, how have cultural evolution, political aspirations, scientific and technical progress all changed our conception of what is vital and have they thus contributed to the transformation of our societies?

This is what we propose to explore here, by plunging into the history of Veolia, founded under the name of the Compagnie Générale des Eaux on 14 December 1853, thanks to a decree signed by the French Emperor Napoleon III.

At the crossroads of its three original businesses - water, waste management and energy - Veolia has developed a concept of the environment that starts with the territory. We are the opposite of a deterritorialized company that would extract value from the territories in which it operates: we bring them the best of global expertise to create value locally, and enable them to overcome the challenges that are specific to them.
Chief Executive Officer of Veolia

Water, Waste, Energy: 
The founding pillars


Water, Veolia's origin, was crucial in the construction of the water network in France. Since its creation, the company has broadened its scope to include wastewater treatment, resource protection and wastewater recycling.

Today, faced with the challenges of climate change, Veolia is embarking on new avenues to ensure sustainable management of this vital resource.

Waste management

Veolia offers complete solutions, from collection to energy recovery. Veolia uses advanced technologies to treat waste, encouraging recycling, reuse and material recovery.

The Group is committed to designing innovative solutions to reduce waste production at source and encourages the recycling of materials, thereby promoting sustainability throughout the product life cycle.


Veolia stands out for its efforts to improve energy efficiency, promote renewable energies and develop cogeneration solutions.

The company is involved in energy distribution, energy waste treatment and promotes the transition to more sustainable energy models. By focusing on efficiency, renewable energy production and integrated resource management, Veolia is actively contributing to the global energy transition towards a greener economy.

A local vision combined with a global impact


Veolia stands out for its approach to the environment, which is rooted in local communities. The Group brings the world's best expertise to bear locally, creating value and helping communities overcome their specific challenges. This multi-local approach has been anchored since the Group's inception. Today, all geographies benefit from Veolia's expertise, becoming in turn innovation laboratories for an ecology of solutions. Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia's Chief Executive Officer, embodies this vision. Under her leadership, Veolia is evolving to become a key player in the ecological transformation.

Innovating in adversity

Veolia's history has been marked by events, crises and challenges that have acted as catalysts for innovation. From the cholera epidemics of the 19th century to contemporary droughts, typhus epidemics and geopolitical tensions, every crisis has been an opportunity to innovate. The failures that are inherent in any process of innovation have often paved the way for new progress, a testament to Veolia's resilience and determination.

Innovation is inherent in the Group's activities and vision. Veolia integrates advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation to optimise its services. Veolia also fosters innovation through partnerships and collaborations with external players, strengthening its ability to address complex resource management challenges. This global approach positions the Group as a key player in the development of sustainable and innovative solutions to today's environmental challenges.