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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

Germany 2020: it all began with the pharmacies

An ever increasing number were being closed down in the sparsely populated regions in the east of Germany as so many people had moved away and the demand for medicines simply wasn’t high enough. To begin with, mobile pharmacies were deployed but after a while even these were no longer profitable. When they were taken off the roads, the first voices could be heard talking about the failure of the market economy. The decision was made within no time at all: as pharmacies provide a public service, they should be nationalised so that everyone has access to them wherever they live.

The ‘Grand Coalition’ did not have to brace themselves against much opposition as the pharmacists made up only a small percentage of the voters in Germany. The heads of the two main coalition parties also thought it made good electoral sense not to let the more left-wing parties get the better of them. And so, after just a few reports on TV showing the protesters brandishing slogans such as “Stop the rot!” or “What’s next? The hospitals?”, the pharmacists were soon forgotten.

The rest fell – almost automatically – into place as the thought had already been put into words: as pharmacies provide a primary medical service, then, so too, do the hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. This ignited a huge public debate accompanied by a large number of expert reports and opinions. In keeping with the spirit of the time, the reports calling for the government to expand its provision of public services found their way to the top of the pile.

This spirit spread like wildfire and soon affected the markets that had always been associated with nationalisation in the past. First the waste management sector was nationalised – something that had already been seen in Hungary – and then garden and landscaping firms and road traffic safety businesses and, of course, all water supply networks. All ­private springs – from Gerolstein, to Apollinaris, to Bad Liebenwerda – were nationalised because it is the responsibility of the state to provide its population with vital services, especially water! The sales of such products should not be dictated by private sector companies and their profit-driven operations.

When the next expert report suggested that providing people with food and warm clothing was a vital service that should also be managed by local authorities, food retailers tried desperately to explain how high their VAT and local business tax bills were – money that helped maintain the prosperity of our society. Again there was a major debate and the Minister for Trade and Industry and Vice Chancellor made it very clear that it would be hugely advantageous to nationalise the food retail market as the products could be sold more cheaply as state-owned businesses were exempt from paying VAT. He owed it to the people, to his party and to himself to take this step. His boss did not disagree.

It was, therefore, only a matter of time before old files were dusted down and opened up: it had been a mistake to privatise telecommunications as had been the liberalisation of the rail network. This error should be rectified immediately. And so what followed was the nationalisation of the telecommunications industry, postal services and the railways and – a logical step – the whole of the logistics sector as this business was responsible for supplying the population with the basic items they needed: so it’s a vital service, so nationalise it!

It was the Finance Minister who worked out what this cost the state and who not only complained that the lack of competition was leading to a loss in quality but also that tax revenue had dried up. There was no money to pay civil servant salaries or state pensions. His colleagues in the German states had capitulated long ago and declared themselves bankrupt.

When the Finance Minister handed in his resignation, a government spokesperson said: “Nobody had set out with the intention of creating a socialist state.”

    Herwart Wilms, REMONDIS Managing Director

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