Concerns Veolia’s continued Russian operations could bring Nottinghamshire Council ‘into disrepute’

An opposition councillor has questioned whether waste contractor Veolia’s decision not to pull out of Russia has put Nottinghamshire Council’s reputation “into disrepute”.
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The global waste company operates in various countries across the world, including the UK, France and Russia.

It has been the long-term waste contractor with Nottinghamshire Council and manages household waste and the running of recycling centres, such as in Mansfield, Warsop and Kirkby.

However, concerns have been raised in other parts of the country over Veolia’s decision not to cease operations in Russia following the start of the Ukraine war last year.

Veolia is Nottinghamshire Council's waste contractor.Veolia is Nottinghamshire Council's waste contractor.
Veolia is Nottinghamshire Council's waste contractor.

Sheffield Council, which also has a contract with Veolia, heard concerns from campaigners last year about the business continuing to work in the country.

More than 1,000 firms including BP, Nike and McDonald’s pulled out after Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

The France-based conglomerate says it “utterly condemns” the war and violence in Ukraine and is providing no new funding or investment into Russia.

It adds it is continuing to maintain its “public service operations” to communities in Russia, including waste management and has also continued some operations in Ukraine.

However, a councillor has asked Nottinghamshire Council to consider whether it should continue working with Veolia.

During a place select committee meeting, Coun Penny Gowland said: “The global company Veolia is still working in Russia.

“While you may say Veolia is not global, the company consists of a large number of sub-companies including Veolia Oxford, Veolia Sheffield and Veolia Nottingham and Veolia UK. I’d go as far as to say it’s a Russian doll of companies.

“Our question is about what representations the authority has made to Veolia to ask it to cease its activities in Russia.

“We note the contract with Veolia says the indemnifier shall not bring the name of the beneficiary into disrepute. Is Veolia bringing the council into disrepute?”

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Coun Neil Clarke, cabinet member for transport and environment, agreed the reputation of the council must be protected.

He said: “This is the problem when you have global companies with subsidiaries and it’s delving out to find out which relationship relates with which.

“I’m absolutely with you that the council must ensure the reputation is maintained and, certainly, I would not want the reputation to be sullied by any incorrect interpretation of international relationships.”

A council spokesman told the meeting: “We’ve approached Veolia corporately to ask it for this position and it issued a statement very much around the services Veolia provides in Russia being focused on providing essential public services.

“Withdrawing those services would compromise the people who are at the sharp end, the public, rather than the government of Russia.

“From our side, we want to make sure those operations are totally separate from Veolia elsewhere and have been reassured by that statement.

“From a contractual perspective, we would expect Veolia to act in an appropriate and professional way.”

A Veolia spokesman said: “We utterly condemn war and violence in Ukraine.

“We are providing absolutely no new funding for our operations in Russia and have stopped all new investment and all financial flows between the group and our Russian subsidiary.

“We are maintaining our responsibility to our employees and the communities we serve by continuing our vital public service operations in Ukraine and Russia.”