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  • Dear Readers!

    When looking at the news over the last few months, one could gain the impression that we are witnessing the beginning of the end of global business. In addition to social stability, the aim and objective of any rational government policy must nevertheless be to secure and wherever possible augment the prosperity of citizens. Trade barriers and isolationism lead in the opposite direction. That is why the punitive tariffs or even the Brexit are not the best option. We do not need less globalisation, but rather more if together we are to meet the global challenges of the future. At least the compromise that has now been achieved between the EU and the United Kingdom would appear to offer a very promising temporary solution. 

    “Tomorrow starts today“, is a slogan at REMONDIS, and as a leader in water management and recycling, we and our roughly 32,000 staff members work day in day out so as to preserve the planet as a hospitable place with a high quality of life for coming generations. To this end, we need open borders and as few barriers as possible to business at the international level. REMONDIS is a global player. We provide solutions for our industrial and municipal customers transnationally and efficiently while leveraging considerable synergies. The services we offer are both rooted at the regional level and networked internationally and are unique in terms of their variety in the water management and recycling business. REMONDIS develops many different segments at the same time and ascribes to the principle of vertical integration. Our customers have access to a combined service portfolio ranging from the collection, treatment, recycling, recovery, transport, logistics and water management all the way to industrial services in the area of repair and maintenance. Our customers and partners profit from this, thereby making a contribution to environmental and climate protection. 

    Environmental protection and raw materials management are transnational. From this angle, one could see the Chinese ban on imports of dirty plastic waste, electronic waste, waste paper and additional waste fractions as a major opportunity. With its clear raw materials strategy, the Middle Kingdom is forcing the European recycling industry to change directions. To do this, Europe needs to redouble its own efforts, however. An eco-design directive for the recyclability of products should force all manufacturers to design their products in such a manner so that they can be 100% recycled at the end of their life cycle. The recycling industry should raise the quality of all recycled material to the primary level by means of greater investments in better sorting and recovery as well as innovative new processes. In this regard as well, REMONDIS has been underscoring its role as a leader in innovation with targeted investments. One very promising new strategy is to return plastic waste to its original chemical state, so-called chemical recycling. And last but not least, policy-makers should create a system of economic incentives to foster the use of recycled raw materials by industry. The best raw material is of no use if nobody is interested in buying it. Each and every municipality and city can serve as a good example in public tenders already now and prioritise the advantage to the climate instead of focusing only on the lowest price.

    REMONDIS is at present leading the way by serving as a role model and investing in new plants and equipment.  

    We hope you enjoy reading the new edition of REMONDIS aktuell.

    Yours truly,

    Egbert Tölle

Changing material streams & a greater variety of materials

Modern procedures and digital processes of Industry 4.0 are having a wide-ranging impact on the recycling economy. This includes companies in the recycling industry having to intensively address significantly altered material flows and a considerably greater diversity of materials. The branch is increasingly using innovative methods and technologies to tackle the tasks facing it, which have become broader and more demanding.

Conventional processes are being stretched to their limit

From conception and development to manufacture, use and maintenance all the way to recycling: Entire value-creation chains can be optimised and complete product lifetime cycles supported with the smart, digitally networked systems of Industry 4.0. New production technologies at the same time make possible greater miniaturisation of the materials used. On top of this, ever more heterogeneous combinations from a large number of different materials are coming about. In the area of material separation, conventional recycling processes are increasingly running up against the borders of that which is technologically and economically possible. For the field of practice, this means: Together with Industry 4.0, a Recycling Economy 4.0 has to be developed, including smart recycling.

Ensuring recyclability of products

The development of electromobility is one example of increasing material diversity and complexity. Here, materials for the construction of light electronic vehicles are being reinforced with fibreglass and carbon fibres to strengthen their structure. This is resulting in new composite materials which, after being produced along classic lines, will also need additional special processing. The situation is similar with wind energy and solar facilities, where there are still a host of unanswered questions surrounding what suitable recovery would look like.

The term Industry 4.0 was coined in 2011 for a German high-tech project and now stands internationally for the fourth industrial revolution.

With regard to the fundament changes that industrial production technologies are undergoing, recycling is called upon to react to the rapid pace of change with flexible processing procedures. The task in all this will first be to adapt to changing quantities of input. Secondly, however, the raw materials recovered through recycling must meet the requirements of customers. The task here is to attain higher levels of separating precision in the sorting of material in the value-creation chain. Modern sensor-based sorting processes offer promising strategies making possible rapid, reliable material recognition. A dialogue early on with manufacturing industry is also indispensable. This will not only help find answers to questions surrounding later processing of raw materials, but at the same time make crucial contributions to the development of products that can be easily recycled.

Environmentally friendly transport with gas and electric drive

In the field of logistics as well, solutions pointing in the right direction for the future need to found for a Recycling Economy 4.0. This also includes the use of commercial vehicles that are environmentally friendly and that are operated with natural gas, biogas or battery. These offer alternatives to conventional diesel vehicles and are a convincing technological response to the stricter requirements applying to inner city traffic. Thus, beginning in the middle of this year, REMONDIS will be launching six high-tech, gas-driven collection vehicles in North Rhine-Westphalia. They will run on biogas and make it possible to collect material at virtually climate-neutral levels. Additional advantages of these environmentally friendly vehicles are their very low levels of emissions and quiet, efficient operation.

One objective of Industry 4.0 is to integrate customers and business partners more tightly into business and value-creation processes.

Electrical commercial vehicles supported by robots

Parallel to this, REMONDIS is also engaged in the field of e-mobility. The Bremerhaven disposal company BEG, the vehicle manufacturer FAUN Umwelttechnik and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence are working together on a collection vehicle that has a completely electrical drive. Dubbed “BEAR – Battery-Electric Waste Disposal with Robot Support“, the project is being supported by the Federal Ministry of the Environment. A prototype of the vehicle can be seen at IFAT 2018. Directly following the trade fair, BEG will be testing the trial vehicle in real-life operations for at least twelve months. The goal is a battery life of at least eight individual years and virtually autonomous charging properties through the use of robots. Findings gained in the project are later to be adopted with electrically driven commercial vehicles in other sectors as well.

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