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  • Dear Readers!

    Once again the world’s largest trade fair for the water, sewage, waste and raw materials sectors has opened its gates in Munich. As in previous years, hundreds of thousands of specialists from all around the globe are expected to attend the exhibition centre in the capital city of Bavaria this year. And once again, focus will be put on modern environmental technologies which aim to increase global recycling rates and make our planet more sustainable – and rightly so. We at REMONDIS love recycling and are doing everything that is economically viable and technologically possible to promote sustainability. However, no matter what recycling efforts are made, there is still that undeniable truth which people often prefer to ignore: at the end, there are always some materials left over. Each time residual and hazardous waste is thermally treated, it generates slag; each time a road is dug up or a building demolished, it produces mineral waste and construction waste. And after all possible substances have been sent for materials or thermal recycling, the question remains ‘what to do with the residue that cannot be recycled?’ The subject of sending waste to landfill appeared to have been taken care of in Germany when the ‘TaSi’ (Technical Directive on the Recycling, Treatment and Disposal of Municipal Waste) came into force in 2005. We are, therefore, now rubbing our eyes in disbelief as it becomes clear that a lack of landfill space – a problem believed to be something of the distant past – is, slowly but surely, threatening to catch up with us again. The City of Kaiserslautern has understood what is happening and has entered into a public private partnership with REMONDIS’ subsidiary, REMEX, to build a new landfill that will be able to accept 400,000 tonnes of mineral waste each year. This, too, is something that must be done for the future of the country.

    Some years ago, Prof. Klaus Töpfer, former Federal Minister of the Environment, introduced the so-called ‘dual system’ to take the pressure off household waste landfills and to push forward the country’s recycling activities. The recycling bin (known as the yellow bin in Germany because of its yellow lid) enabled recyclable and residual waste to be collected separately from households and proved to be a success for many years. Indeed, this concept was exported to many other countries. This system is now in danger of collapsing as a result of its own loopholes. Projected volumes of correctly licensed sales packaging will fall this year to just 812,000 tonnes, a 26 percent drop compared to last year, whilst the amount of waste sales packaging actually collected will remain the same at around 2.2 million tonnes. The honest system operators are having to bear this financial ‘gap’ and no-one is able to say how long it can survive. In this issue of REMONDIS aktuell, we look more closely at the question of whether the recycling bin has a future or whether it has finally reached the end of the line.

    No matter what the future brings, waste and raw materials will still have to be transported from A to B. Looking at the growing shortage of qualified truck drivers in Germany, however, this may soon be more easily said than done. Fewer and fewer young people are choosing to join this profession which is so important for road logistics. REMONDIS has taken action to counteract this trend and is offering more apprenticeship jobs in this area. The job of a truck driver is so much better than its image. The apprenticeship course offers much more than simply learning to drive a truck – it also teaches all about vehicle technology, infrastructure, logistics and mobility.

    As always, I hope you enjoy reading this edition of REMONDIS aktuell.
    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann 

Not all cities and districts are recycling as well as they could

Data published in a new study by the INFA Institute backs the call for the creation of a new and comprehensive recycling concept to improve the use of recyclable materials in municipal waste. The mutual goal of all market players must be to increase raw material efficiency. Old conflicts must be settled. The disputes between the public and private sectors and the dual systems must not be allowed to disguise the true potential of waste as a source of raw materials. The study shows that many cities and districts have already achieved some exemplary collection and recycling rates; many others, however, have not. Obligatory benchmarks should be used in the future to make sure that the most is made of these raw materials.

The study shows how greater efficiency could be achieved

  • At the moment, discussions are focusing on sales packaging and products made of similar materials as well as on closing the loopholes in the Sales Packaging Ordinance. It would be helpful if politicians looked for ways to achieve the results of the INFA study by creating clear efficiency standards and setting collection volumes and recycling rates. Moreover, these should no longer be limited to waste packaging but also include other materials, such as biowaste, bulky waste and metals.

  • Recyclable Material

    Tonnes

    Total

    7,788,231

    Old paper

    1,158,177

    Glass

    330,565

    Organic/garden waste

    3614,349

    Plastics

    503,390

    Drink cartons

    45,799

    Metals

    455,571

    Old wood*

     1,680,380

    * either from collections of bulky waste or already separated from other waste

Obligatory benchmarks would be useful

    • By reforming the Sales Packaging Ordinance, raw material efficiency could be greatly increased through high quality recycling. Based on its comparisons of the volumes currently being collected by cities and districts (divided up into clusters according to population density), the study calls for the introduction of obligatory benchmarks.

    It estimates that – if the recycling targets were reached – up to 7.8 million tonnes of additional recyclable materials could be recovered from municipal waste every year. Around 25 percent of all cities and districts have already proven that these volumes can be achieved; 75 percent still have a considerable way to go yet. The aim of the new recycling law must be to set framework conditions so that as many recyclables as possible can be recovered from municipal waste. Both the technology and logistics systems needed to achieve the collection volumes and recycling rates published in the study are already available. This is the recycling goal for the future. 

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