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  • Dear Readers!

    The refugee crisis, caused by the war in Syria, has awakened Europe from a deep slumber. Individual member states are outdoing each other – introducing one uncoordinated measure after another as they attempt to stem the seemingly never-ending flow of people desperately seeking help. Whilst Chancellor Merkel is hoping to bring about a European solution, others are closing their borders and seriously thinking about exiting the European Union. No matter where you look, people are saying the party is over. It is time now for facts rather than emotions to be brought to the table. Germany has around 81 million inhabitants and its economy has never been so good. Approximately one million refugees had entered the country when the state elections were held in Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt and Rhineland-Pfalz on 13 March. To use the same metaphor: if 81 people are invited to a party and they are joined by one international guest, then the party is by no means over. On the contrary, there is a great opportunity here for the new guest’s culture, experience and vitality to enhance the event and make it even more interesting. 

    As Germany’s population continues to fall, demographers are assuming that the country will need around 500,000 new immigrants every year simply to keep its social security system functioning. In the future, therefore, we may find ourselves being grateful each time a migrant decides to stay and do an apprenticeship in our country. What is needed is genuine integration. The Minister for Labour, Social Affairs and Inclusion in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rainer Schmeltzer, recently published a brochure in four languages so that refugees could find out how the public transport system works in the district of Unna. Whilst talking to one of REMONDIS’ board members, he called on the recycling sector to do something similar. The majority of the migrants have little or no experience of using different coloured bins to separate waste. REMONDIS has stepped up to the mark and published a flyer in German, English, French, Farsi and Arabic. We would also be very pleased to receive applications from registered refugees wishing to do an apprenticeship at our company, for example to become a professional truck driver. 

    If the state of North Rhine-Westphalia were to be a country in its own right, then it would be among the top 10 European nations when it comes to population figures and economic power. The latest waste management report shows that our industry has become one of the biggest drivers of growth. Whilst traditional industries, such as coal, steel and energy, continue to decline, an ever increasing number of people are working in recycling, industrial and municipal services and water management. REMONDIS is both a driving force and the backbone of this really pleasing development. And what makes REMONDIS what it is, is its 32,000 employees who work for their local inhabitants and their municipal and industrial customers in 33 countries every single day. Looking at all this, it is a shame that politicians would appear to be paying so little attention to the IFAT exhibition which is being held in Munich from 30 May to 03 June. REMONDIS is going to be there even if the Federal Minister of the Environment is not. We look forward to seeing you there!

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

Ready to work in just four weeks

The region around Hanover has more than 600,000 households and 19 individual local authority districts and covers an area as large as the Saarland. Last year, REMONDIS took part in a tender process to collect recycling bags from the regions around Hanover and was awarded the contract in July 2015. It actually took over the work from the municipal waste management company, Abfallwirtschaft Region Hannover (aha), at the beginning of this year. Which meant the company had just five months to set up the logistics and infrastructure needed, to plan the collection routes, to order the vehicles and to put together a team of 60 people – from dispatchers, to drivers, to workers for loading the vehicles. In the end, they had just four weeks to do their practice runs before their work began in earnest.

    • The Hanover region has more than 600,000 households and 19 local authority districts and covers an area as large as the Saarland


    • The company’s regular fleet has 23 collection vehicles; at peak periods, however, up to 29 vehicles were on the road


    • The company had just five months to put together a team of 60 people, to order the vehicles and to plan the collection routes

Learning by doing

REMONDIS stepped up to the mark – without knowing where the public recycling banks and private storage places were and without knowing what individual agreements had been reached between the previous collection company and the local residents as to when and where individual bags were to be left. It was inevitable that a few things were going to go wrong. The drivers and those loading the vehicles had to get to know their areas from scratch, travelling down their routes and taking note of as many details as possible about the private storage places and public recycling banks. These details were then incorporated into their routes so that they could further optimise their system whilst carrying out their everyday work and adapt it to their daily routines.

A difficult situation at the beginning

As was expected, things did not run as smoothly as the local residents and REMONDIS had hoped at the beginning. Especially as a number of other factors helped to aggravate the situation even further: aha, for example, had last collected the sales packaging from some of the districts in the middle of December because of the Christmas holidays. The amount of recycling bags that needed to be collected from these local residents had been building up so that the volumes of waste were much bigger than had been expected during the first few weeks. And then winter arrived, four days into the new contract. REMONDIS was held up by snow and ice. There was chaos on the roads for days on end.

Right waste, wrong bin

What’s more, several of REMONDIS’ teams found a large number of containers with locks on them in front of a number of buildings, for which the keys had not yet been handed over. And then there was the problem of the yellow recycling bags being thrown into the orange wheelie bins. It was obviously normal for local residents to put their waste packaging into the orange recycling bins which aha had introduced back in 2012. Which meant that REMONDIS was faced with the problem that it had no legal right to empty the bins or indeed even to touch them.

Team work at its best

Problem upon problem and in a region where, over the last 15 years, waste has become a highly emotional issue as local politicians have repeatedly brought up and discussed the subject of waste management rather than talk about the way local authorities manage their work. Other REMONDIS businesses gave a lending hand as the employees at the new business in Langenhagen (from where the teams start their daily collection trips) searched for ways to solve these problems. Branches from across the whole of north Germany sent members of their staff to help the team through this critical initial phase as well as to help them optimise their routes. They sent both vehicles and experienced teams.

These “temporary” workers came from Gifhorn, Wildeshausen, Bremerhaven and Hildesheim to assist their new colleagues and help them through the Herculean task of ensuring that the recycling bags were collected from the region each and every day. Everything was running smoothly by the middle of February.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all our colleagues for their extraordinary efforts and dedication.

All’s well that ends well

  • At peak periods up to 29 vehicles were on the road. The company’s regular fleet currently comprises 23 collection vehicles. The company’s policy of being open and transparent, its intensive talks with local politicians and its consistent complaints system (with the company calling back local residents who had been put on hold for too long during the first few weeks) all helped to halt the growing resentment and calm the situation down.

    All problems were solved within just seven weeks ensuring that a reliable service is now in place to collect the recycling bags in one of Germany’s largest collection regions – a huge logistical feat that very few other recycling companies other than REMONDIS would have been able to master. Our heartfelt thanks go out to all our colleagues for their extraordinary efforts and dedication.

    • The employees were determined to get to grips with the challenging situation

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