For the first time in its history, Paprec, the French leader in recycling, exceeded the two billion euro mark in activities in 2021, with 12,500 people spread over 280 sites and 41,000 customers. An exceptional entrepreneurial adventure.
It was in 1994 that Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, an executive at Générale des Eaux, decided to buy Paprec, an SME in Seine-Saint-Denis which generated 4 million euros in turnover with 45 employees. This graduate of Essec, aged 37, understood before the others that waste would soon not only be buried and incinerated but above all recovered.
An industry pioneer
Over the years, Jean-Luc Petithuguenin has developed new recycling channels, in plastics, metals, industrial waste and now car batteries. He modernized a profession that was not known to be a model of management and invested with a vengeance.
“The two keys to success are technological mastery and the ability to involve employees in the projectassures the CEO, renowned for his outspokenness and his commitments to diversity and secularism. To my teams, I repeat this formula : in the 20th century, the big ones ate the little ones. In the 21st century, the fast will eat the slow.»
Paprec’s objective is to reach five billion euros in turnover within ten years. By then, Jean-Luc Petithuguenin should have handed over to his three sons, who work alongside him and who now hold 80% of the holding company controlling the group.
Focus on energy
To continue to develop, Paprec has just completed a fifth round of funding to strengthen its equity, with the entry of Crédit Agricole and the Vauban fund, which join Bpifrance, Arkea and BNP, in the capital.
There is no shortage of projects, particularly in energy. “When we can no longer recycle, the smartest thing is to produce electricity, heat or gas from waste”, summarizes Jean-Luc Petithuguenin. The CEO has multiplied acquisitions to reach critical size in this area, with in particular the takeover of Tiru, a subsidiary of EDF in 2021. Paprec has become number three in the sector, behind Veolia and Suez, which he is now on the heels of.
The group has just been awarded the construction of a very large methanation plant in the port of Gennevilliers (Hauts-de-Seine), capable of processing 50,000 tonnes of food waste per year. It will meet the gas needs of 5,400 households.