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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

No longer a niche market

The number of global initiatives looking to promote sustainability has been steadily rising. One of the consequences of this development is that the green economy is also growing in significance. Indeed it is not only being appreciated more by society, it is also playing an increasingly important role in the country's economy as a whole. Two studies published recently have revealed that this sector – previously just a niche market – has long since become a major industry.

The sector covers a whole range of activities

Conserving natural resources, curbing global warming, managing water resources: these are just a few of the many facets of the environmental sector. However, as the lines between the different fields are not as distinct as in other industrial sectors, a more detailed analysis is often needed to reveal the true size of this industry. The Statistical Offices of the Länder and the Ministry for the Environment for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) recently worked their way through extensive databases to evaluate the importance of the environmental sector in Germany – and the findings are impressive.

  • The turnover of the green economy in Germany (relating to services, goods and technology that protect the environment) in 2012

Adding value to the economy

The Statistical Offices of the Länder published their calculations in the autumn of 2015. According to their report, the overall turnover of businesses operating in the green economy in Germany and offering services, goods and technology to protect the environment lay at around 114 billion euros in 2012. This meant that their total turnover was not far off that of the chemicals industry, which generated a turnover of 136 billion euros in the same year.

From resource management, to material efficiency, to eco-friendly energy: REMONDIS operates in a number of different areas within the green economy.

If the range of green activities is extended a little, then this figure is even higher. The Green Economy Report North Rhine-Westphalia – also published during the second half of 2015 – not only included companies that offered products and services which protect the environment but also those selling environmentally friendly and resource-efficient products and services. Based on these statistics, the total turnover of the green economy in Germany amounted to 326.6 billion euros in 2012.

The green economy creates jobs

According to the Green Economy Report, approx. 1.6 million people were employed by firms operating in the environmental sector in 2012. What is great to see here is the speed that new jobs are being created in this sector, with the overall number of employees increasing by 6 percent between 2009 and 2012 – twice the rate that the number of employees rose by in the overall economy. The amount of people working in the environmental sector is growing at EU level, as well. The statistics published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, reveal that 4.3 million people were employed full time by this industry in 2012, almost 9 percent more than in 2009.

One of the key features of the green economy is that its services and products are helping to master some of the biggest challenges faced by society today. To be able to continue along its successful path, it needs to develop pioneering concepts and innovations. The sector is closing in on the established key industries in this area, too: the number of patent applications relating to the green economy across the country amounted to 4.8 patents per 1,000 employees in 2012. It applied, therefore, for the same number of patents as the engineering sector.

  • The overall number of employees working in the industry increased by 6% between 2009 and 2012

Growth will continue

The economic importance of the environmental sector will increase in the coming years as climate change targets become ever more ambitious and environmental standards ever more stringent. North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the German states to have recognised the true potential of this sector. The Ministry for the Environment for NRW is planning to have invested around 800 million euros in the green economy and in preventing climate change by 2020. One of its goals here is for this to have helped create 100,000 new jobs by 2025. NRW Minister for the Environment Johannes Remmel commented: “This is not something that politicians can do by themselves – the companies must help out here. Politicians can, however, ensure the right conditions are in place for this happen.”

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