Interview with Rob Opsomer

“Veolia on the frontline to find solutions
to the plastics crisis”

Rob Opsomer leads the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s systemic initiatives, including the New Plastics Economy program.

What is the New Plastics Economy initiative?

It aims to change the way plastic is produced, manufactured, and used. Plastic is a perfect illustration of our linear economy. Currently, out of all the plastic packaging produced, only 14% is collected for recycling and only 2% is actually processed into quality products. For the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the issue of plastic is not so much an environmental problem as a truly economic problem.

What role should the recycling industry play in this new plastics economy?

It is best placed to invent technologies and means for sorting and recycling plastics that we currently do not know how to recycle. As an international company, Veolia has strong expertise in recycling and works with a large number of plastic producers. It is therefore on the frontline to find solutions to the plastics crisis we are facing.

Why did you launch a New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize in 2017?

We need to fundamentally rethink our production and consumption patterns. To do this, we need eco-designed materials and products and new business models based on the circular economy. Our two million US dollar prize is for everyone: individuals, entrepreneurs, researchers, inventors, small and large companies around the world, who can provide concrete solutions to reverse the trend and reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.


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Veolia becomes a Core Partner in “the New Plastics Economy initiative” organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation