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  • Dear Readers!

    Whilst the energy transition “experiment” continues unabated in Germany and the large energy providers find themselves in a difficult situation as they try to find out exactly what their main business now is, REMONDIS – as a consumer – has been taking action and has come up with some innovative solutions to tackle the energy problem. We have, for example, succeeded in considerably reducing energy consumption at our dismantling centre for waste electrical and electronic equipment at the Lippe Plant in Lünen by introducing a new energy management system. Whereas, in the past, it had only been possible to see how much energy the plant was consuming as a whole, a new software system – developed by the company itself – now enables the ­consumption of each individual piece of equipment and each individual light to be recorded. One of the responses to the results generated by this new system was to exchange all the lights in the plant with state-of-the-art LEDs. This has led to more light with fewer carbon emissions and lower costs and this idea is catching on across the whole of the group. This is what we at REMONDIS believe the energy transition to be.

    REMONDIS continues to enjoy healthy growth and not only in its home region of North Rhine-Westphalia. Our family-owned company has been expanding in the countries which are on its list of “core regions”. These include, for example, neighbouring countries such as Poland to the east and the Netherlands to the west. The Dutch recycling firm, van ­Gansewinkel, recently sold its Polish operations to ­REMONDIS. Furthermore, REMONDIS acquired the business locations and activities of the Becker Group in the south of Poland. Thanks to these latest transactions, we have succeeded in expanding our range of services for our Polish customers and strengthening our position on the Polish market – one of the company’s so-called core markets. At the time of going to press, we also received the good news that our Dutch subsidiary has taken over the Dusseldorp Group. This will considerably grow REMONDIS Nederland’s operations in the Dutch recycling sector.

    According to the Federal Office for National Statistics, the total debt of the local and district authorities in Germany lay at around 140 billion euros at the end of 2014 – and this figure is likely to rise. Some councils, however, are of the opinion that they can solve this problem by remunicipalising services that, they believe, fall into the category of “vital public services”. To be able to do this though they must spend large sums of money on setting up the necessary infrastructure – an infrastructure that private sector firms already have in place and which they could offer far more cost-effectively. We know from experience that the best solution is to work together as partners, as can be seen in the City of Freiburg in the Breisgau region. The PPP model continues to be a practicable solution that unites the two worlds in the best possible way and brings the most benefits for the regional economy and the local inhabitants.

    The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees in Germany to escape from their war-torn homelands will mean greater challenges as well as some great opportunities for our ­country and local authorities. Let us work together in a spirit of optimism and confidence to create a better future for ­everyone living in our country. REMONDIS is there as always to help and advise its municipal partners. 

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

New plant in Dorsten is setting the standards

  • NQR, a fully owned subsidiary of REMONDIS Industrie Service, specialises in treating materials that contain mercury. Having successfully introduced ‘PLOM B’ in the autumn of 2013 – a new service for collecting small volumes of amalgam waste from dental surgeries – NQR further expanded its business in September 2014 when it took over a new branch in the German city of Dorsten. Previously owned by DELA, the premises are situated on the northern edge of the Ruhr region and have excellent connections to Europe’s close-knit network of roads.

A metal with unusual properties

  • Mercury – also known as quicksilver – is a remarkable substance. It is the only metal that is liquid at standard room temperature and pressure. As mercury has such high surface tension, it does not wet the non-reactive surface it is on but instead forms a shape like a lens (due to its strong cohesive forces). It conducts electricity like any other metal although only at a low rate. It is precisely these unusual properties that has made mercury such an interesting substance for manufacturing products over the years. Unfortunately, mercury is also toxic which is why some industrial businesses are now substituting it with other substances. However, mercury is still being used in many applications which opens up the question of how to recover and recycle it. Once again, REMONDIS has some good news here.

Recycling using rotary distillation

    NQR’s facility in Dorsten transforms mercury into cinnabar – as it is found in nature

  • NQR’s branch in Dorsten processes industrial waste containing mercury for its customers and suppliers who come from a whole range of different sectors and from all around the world. One of the central pillars of this recycling work is the facility’s rotary distillation unit with its afterburner and flue gas cleaning system. This plant processes activated carbon, button cell batteries, contaminated earth and filter media from the crude oil and natural gas industry, chlorine producers as well as from the chemicals industry. Moreover, NQR is able to process industrial sludge containing mercury in its vacuum dryer.

A patented stabilisation process

One special feature of this new plant in Dorsten is its vacuum mixer to produce mercury sulphide (cinnabar) which immobilises metallic mercury using a unique stabilisation process – an environmentally sound method of disposing of this substance. In nature, mercury is primarily found as cinnabar (HgS) in regions that had previously experienced volcanic activity. It is stable and non-reactive in this form which means it cannot impact negatively on the environment. Is there, therefore, a more obvious solution than to transform recycled mercury, which is no longer needed as a raw material, into this state and copy nature?

Mercury was discovered back in ancient times. NQR’s state-of-the-art mercury recycling systems are a more recent development.

Mercury (Hg) can be turned into mercury sulphide (HgS) by creating a controlled reaction between metallic mercury and sulphur in the temperature-controlled and sealed vacuum mixer. This novel patented process is, therefore, able to transform mercury, a hazardous substance for both humans and the environment, into the comparatively safe mercury sulphide which can then be sent to landfill at no risk. This is no more and no less than the naturally occurring substance, cinnabar, from which the mercury was originally extracted. NQR’s vacuum mixer in Dorsten could, therefore, be described as an environmentally friendly way of returning mercury back to nature.

Purity levels of almost 100 percent

However, pure mercury is still needed for production processes. The company’s ultra-pure distillation system is able to treat liquid mercury from a variety of processes to produce mercury with purity levels of up to 99.999999 percent which can then be returned to production cycles.

Even if mercury is being used less and less to produce consumer goods, many industries still need this material.

And the Dorsten branch continues to expand under the management of REMONDIS’ subsidiary, NQR, and is now also home to NQR’s third battery sorting facility. Every year, up to 6,000 tonnes of mixed batteries can be sorted into individual fractions so they can then be sent on to the company’s own battery recycling facility. NQR is, therefore, closing a number of different material life cycles here helping to protect society and the environment – and working for the future.

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