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  • Dear Readers!

    Public private partnerships create a win-win situation. There is no better way to sustainably safeguard jobs, create new jobs or use efficient innovations for public services and so help keep local fees and charges stable. And yet one might occasionally get the impression here in Germany that there is currently a kind of trench warfare going on between the public and private sectors. People are talking about the current trend of some local authorities to renationalise services. Something that is threatening to eliminate fair competition. There are a number of impartial studies around that have looked in detail at the pros and cons of nationalisation. The international economics research institute, e.ca economics, for example, discovered that this trend towards nationalisation is one that is catching. On the one hand, districts that have renationalised services in the past are more likely to do so again in the future. Consequently, this effect is seen more often in districts where a large percentage of the services are already being delivered by municipal businesses. On the other hand, there is also a noticeable trend towards local authorities trying to drive private sector competition out of their market, in particular in districts with a low population density.


    Having worked together with local authorities for many years, REMONDIS is, of course, critical of these trends. Each and every day, REMONDIS shows that things are so much better when the public and private sectors work together. Being a partner in 50 PPP companies and delivering services via numerous third party contracts, we have perfected the concept of public private partnerships for all those involved – both when it comes to public services and water management. All in all, REMONDIS and its public sector partners serve over 12 million people. The local authorities and their residents are provided with high quality services at a fair price. At the end of the day, they are the ones who finance the public services via the fees and charges they must pay. At the same time, the municipal partners must keep a close eye on their budgets and economise where necessary. Having a reliable source of income from taxes can also help here. It is well worth taking a look at the way the different tasks are allocated in Germany.

    Around 35% of waste management services are provided by the local authorities themselves via their own municipal companies, which means no VAT is charged on these services. More than one third of the people living in Germany, therefore, do not pay VAT on these public services; and yet at the same time they benefit from the payments made by other local inhabitants as a result of funds being allocated between districts. The local authorities themselves lose out as they receive less tax. An unfair tax situation that ends up hurting everyone. Councils are deliberately choosing not to open up their markets even though this would enable them to cut costs. They are effectively holding back the private sector economy rather than making the most of the opportunity available to them to improve their situation and work together with the private sector to take the pressure off the public purse, increase their workforce, stabilise fees and charges and ensure they have a steady and reliable source of income.


    Both we and our long-standing municipal partners agree that the best solution is to work together as partners. This special edition of our company magazine focuses entirely on the subject of public private partnerships and aims to provide a more detailed picture of the various PPP business models, the advantages they bring for local authorities and their residents as well as the positive impact they have on jobs, on the local economies and on the environment. And, as self-praise is no praise, we are more than happy to give our partners the opportunity to speak about their PPPs here. Local authorities, which would like to have a stable and sustainable budget, to provide their residents with high quality services and to achieve the highest possible levels of sustainability in their waste management and recycling sector, will find some valuable suggestions and experiences here to help them in their decision-making process. Here’s to future collaborations!


    Yours

     

    Thomas Conzendorf

Reliable services for 20 years

  • Wirtschaftsbetriebe Oberhausen GmbH (WBO) – a public private partnership between the City of Oberhausen and REMONDIS – has been providing those living and working in the town with reliable services for 20 years now. A truly successful PPP model!

A full range of service

  • The list of WBO’s tasks is long and varied: managing and treating the city’s wastewater, cleaning and maintaining its road network, providing industrial, commercial and private customers with a range of waste management services and ensuring the roads are safe for public use. Making the most of its wealth of expertise, it serves the city operating a reliable and efficient business. Oberhausen collaborates closely with REMONDIS here, which has owned a 49% share in WBO since 1998. WBO has been in the black since 1999 and its economic plan continues to develop positively.

      Managing waste is just one of the many tasks carried out by WBO

Waste management in Germany’s largest shopping centre

Each and every week, its waste management division collects waste generated by around 104,000 households so it can be thermally treated at the GMVA Niederrhein GmbH in Oberhausen (a town situated in the west of the Ruhr region). The PPP’s tasks also include emptying the recycling, paper and organic waste bins as well as running a municipal recycling centre for a whole range of recyclable and residual waste. The recyclable materials are either handed in to this centre or collected by WBO and transhipped in Oberhausen. One of the company’s highlights is its work at CentrO Oberhausen, Europe’s largest shopping centre. WBO collects all waste materials generated here – from waste packaging all the way through to food waste and old cooking fat.

  • Every week, the residual waste generated by the ca. 104,000 households is collected and taken to GMVA Niederrhein GmbH in Oberhausen for thermal treatment

A fleet of 170 vehicles

WBO’s catchment area covers around 77km² with ca. 212,000 local inhabitants and a road network totalling approx. 550km in length. More than one million metres of road have to be swept regularly if the streets are to be kept clean. The company must react quickly if road surfaces become damaged, traffic lights fail or there is a sudden snowfall to ensure the roads remain safe for the public.

A fleet of efficient vehicles is essential to be able to carry out all these tasks. WBO has a total of 170 vehicles – of which 80 are special waste management vehicles. Any repair work is performed in its own garage. Thanks to the new generation of multifunctional vehicles for winter services and water maintenance work, there are hardly any periods during the year when they are not being used. Thus WBO operates in a fair competitive environment offering its customers reliable, cost-effective and top quality services. Moreover, priority is always put on conserving natural resources and driving sustainability across the whole of its operations.

  • “This model, in which our private sector partner plays an important role, helps us to provide efficient and cost-effective public services – especially considering the difficult financial situation that the town is in at the moment. Moreover, the revenue generated by WBO benefits the city and, as a result, our local residents as well.“

    Sonja Bongers, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board

From cleaning sewers to checking for leaks

WBO’s work, however, is not just above ground. A system of sewer pipes is located below the surface that is just as long as the road network. WBO is in charge of running the public wastewater plants, the storage basins, road and property drainage systems as well as organising all related planning and engineering work. Its portfolio here includes checking the network for leaks, which is performed by specially trained operatives using the innovative in-line process – something that is unique in the sewer renovation sector. Furthermore, WBO always has the latest information available for building projects as it continuously records detailed information about the infrastructure in a register.

Close collaboration work between the partners

WBO managing director, Karsten Woidtke, is pleased to see just how good the collaboration is with the city authorities. “Oberhausen benefits from WBO’s operations being so reliable and cost effective. We’re continuously checking our processes and then discussing the findings with our municipal partner and our employees to further improve our business. Our objective here is to ensure there is always a healthy balance between what is technically possible and economically viable and to remain in close contact with the city’s local inhabitants. We work using eco-friendly processes and with eco-friendly materials.”

Praise from all quarters

  • “WBO was one of the first PPP models to be established in Germany,” said WBO managing director, Maria Guthoff, looking back at the company’s history. “We have proven – right from the moment the company was founded 20 years ago – that this model works. The City of Oberhausen’s waste management sector is in the safest of hands.”

    Sonja Bongers, Chairwoman of WBO’s Supervisory Board and SPD city councillor, is more than happy to confirm this: “The collaboration works very well indeed and, as far as the council is concerned, WBO is doing a really good job. All in all, WBO has proven to be a very successful PPP. This model, in which our private sector partner plays an important role, helps us to provide efficient and cost-effective public services – especially considering the difficult financial situation that the town is in at the moment. Moreover, the revenue generated by WBO benefits the city and, as a result, our local residents as well.”

    Wolfgang Crämer, chairman of the works council at WBO, also believes the PPP model has had a positive impact: “As far as the works council is concerned, the PPP has generated a number of substantial advantages. Bringing in private sector know-how has led to an increase in the services we provide as well as to more investments being made in state-of-the-art technology. This has driven the company forward and helped us secure long-term contracts.”

    > Facts & Figures

    A PPP since

    1996

    Shareholders

    51% Stadtwerke Oberhausen
    49% REMONDIS

    No. of employees

    420

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