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  • Dear Readers!

    In Germany super election year 2017 is well underway. The Saarland election has already taken place, with Schleswig-Holstein and the most populous of the German Länder, North Rhine-Westphalia, set to follow in May. General elections for the Bundestag will then be taking place in September. In these times of populism and fake news, this election will play a pivotal role. Germany has the strongest economy and largest population in Europe. The outcome of the election will have repercussions for all of Europe and influence economic and political relations with other countries around the world. In view of the dimensions involved, a key topic unfortunately often takes back seat: recycling and its importance to climate and environmental policy. We wanted to size things up accurately and enquired with all the major political party groups about their platforms concerning environmental policy in the upcoming legislative period and beyond. You will find a summary of the responses in this issue’s feature article and the complete responses online at remondis-aktuell.de. Whether elections turn out to be good for the climate and the environment in general and our growth sector in particular will ultimately be decided by hopefully well informed, active citizens.

    Some legislative bills have been initiated shortly before the elections – for example, the new Commercial Waste Regulation (Gewerbeabfallverordnung). It will involve important changes that have a major impact on our commercial customers when the new regulation goes into effect on 1 August 2017 at the latest. Under the new version, companies producing waste in connection with housing construction will be obligated to separately collect the waste items of paper, cardboard and pasteboard with the exception of hygienic paper, glass, plastics, metals, wood, textiles, organic waste and additional commercial and industrial waste already where it comes about, i.e. at companies themselves. The same goes for construction and demolition waste, which is already to be separated at the building site into the various waste categories such as glass, plastics, metals, wood, insulation material, bituminous mixtures, building material based on gypsum, concrete, bricks, tiles and ceramics. This is no doubt good news for improved recovery of raw materials, but it also means greater expenses for customers, who ­REMONDIS will support professionally as accustomed with practicable services in line with laws and regulations. 

    And how do things stand at present when it comes to refugee policy? The number of new persons seeking asylum arriving in Germany has dropped significantly. The biggest challenge now is to successfully integrate these people in our society and the German world of work. ­REMONDIS is taking on this challenge, hiring young people as well as persons with work experience in various fields who have lost their home as a result of war, famine and displacement and now want to venture a new beginning in their adopted country of Germany. A real win-win situation, as a successful start to a vocational career is the best contribution that can be made to a society living together in prosperity and peace. Here as well, ­REMONDIS meets its responsibility to society as a whole, acting in the spirt of its own slogan: working for the future!

    Yours

    Thomas Conzendorf

UN publishes its World Water Development Report

The UN’s 2017 World Water Development Report was published on 22 March – on World Water Day – and is entitled “Wastewater: the Untapped Resource”. REMONDIS Aqua not only supports this global message wholeheartedly, it also has a number of solutions to offer in this area.

Wastewater must be seen as a resource

The choice of this year’s subject is closely connected to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that was adopted by the UN’s General Assembly in autumn 2015. Goal 6 of this agenda is to “ensure access to safe water sources and sanitation for all” and lists a number of targets. One of these is, for example, to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increase recycling and safe re-use globally. The General Assembly has, therefore, made it very clear that wastewater is no longer simply a product that must be disposed of but must be seen as a resource that can be re-used. Treated wastewater can be put to good use as a substitute for fresh water – e.g. to irrigate crops or in industrial processes. What’s more, important substances can be recovered from the wastewater that can be recycled or used to generate energy.

Innovative technologies

Energy efficiency levels at the municipal sewage treatment plants being run by the REMONDIS Group are continuously being improved by using sludge digestion and co-digestion, both of which produce enough energy to cover most of the plant’s requirements. The facilities that the company uses at its industrial customers go even further with the Re2Energy process producing up to 50 percent more energy than is needed. Wastewater treatment can, therefore, be a great source of energy.

The family-run company attaches great importance to research and development work

Besides generating energy, REMONDIS also focuses on recovering vital substances from the wastewater. Around 2 million tonnes of dewatered sewage sludge are generated in Germany every year which contain approx. 60,000 tonnes of phosphorus. A significant amount, therefore, which could be recovered and recycled – especially as natural reserves around the world are gradually being depleted and the quality of these reserves is deteriorating rapidly. REMONDIS
has been looking into this subject for many years now and has developed a number of processes that are creating the groundwork and setting standards for recovering phosphorus. 

Tracking down the phosphorus

Its intention here is to enable the phosphorus to be used as a fertiliser as well as for it to be supplied to industrial businesses as valuable phosphates. Indeed, this family-run company attaches great importance to research and development work. Well aware that this raw material is becoming ever more scarce, the experts have been looking closely at finding ways to recover and recycle phosphorus – as phosphorus is vital for plant and animal life and, of course, for humans, too. With our planet’s natural supplies of phosphorus becoming harder and harder to come by, REMONDIS has intensified its efforts to recover phosphorus and is now running its first pilot plant together with HAMBURG WASSER to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge ash.

Thanks to its award-winning TetraPhos® process, ­REMONDIS Aqua can recover vital raw materials for re-use – including phosphoric acid, gypsum, iron salts and aluminium salts

Making the most of sewage sludge ash

What is particularly special about this innovative TetraPhos® process is the fact that sewage sludge ash containing phosphate is dissolved in diluted phosphoric acid. The phosphoric acid solution is enriched with the phosphate from the ash and then treated in four different stages. Various products are available at the end of the process including RePacid® phosphoric acid (used to produce phosphates, incl. fertilisers), gypsum for the building supplies industry and iron and aluminium salts which can be returned to the sewage treatment plant and used as precipitating agents to eliminate phosphorus. This all helps to conserve considerable amounts of natural resources: not only can up to 500kg of phosphoric acid be produced from 1,000kg of ash but also over 500kg of gypsum for the building supplies industry and iron and aluminium salts for treating wastewater at sewage treatment plants.

A further process deployed by REMONDIS is to recover a high quality fertiliser straight from industrial wastewater. By using its RePhos® system, the company is able to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater so that they can be re-used immediately.

  • Watch this film to find out more about the innovative TetraPhos® process – the winner of the 2016 GreenTec Award (Recycling & Resources category) (German only)

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