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  • Dear Readers!

    The summer break has come to an end and people are gradually returning to work – as are the MPs in Berlin. Once again, environmental politicians are focusing on the subjects of waste management and recycling. The coalition agreement, signed by the Government in 2013, gives great importance to curbing global warming and using our planet’s natural resources efficiently and also expressly states that innovations that protect the environment, prevent climate change and preserve resources are also opportunities for economic growth. Industry specialists are well aware, however, that economic growth and more innovations are only possible if there are clear framework conditions in place that guarantee fair competition, if product responsibility is extended and if recycling targets are raised. The latter, in particular, can only be implemented if the necessary legal framework has been established so that joint kerbside collection schemes for packaging and other recyclables can be set up.

    Unfortunately, the latest draft bill for the new packaging law has failed to deliver what many had been hoping for. What we seem to have here is the eighth amendment to the Packaging Ordinance rather than a genuine recyclables law. Whilst there are a few positive approaches to remedying the current deficiencies, it does not deal with the question of whether waste made of similar materials to packaging should also be collected in recycling bins. The increased recycling targets are well below the volumes that could actually be recovered from household waste. According to the latest studies, an additional 7.8 million tonnes of raw materials could still be collected which in turn would reduce carbon emissions by a further 1.6 million tonnes. Moreover, the need for fair competition and a level playing field between the private and public sector companies has not been tackled in the draft bill either. And there is practically no mention of introducing effective ecodesign guidelines that would force manufacturers to think about how their products could be recycled when actually designing them. We must wait and see whether this draft bill actually becomes law. The private recycling sector believes that a number of improvements need to be made to the bill. Time is running out, however, with the general election coming up next year.

    REMONDIS demonstrates just what can be done with waste and how the very most can be made of these materials to curb climate change and protect the environment – such as at its Lippe Plant in Lünen. The efforts being made by the company here were officially recognised recently when KlimaExpo.NRW (a cross-departmental initiative of the state government of NRW to prevent climate change, conserve resources and achieve sustainable economic growth) added three of the Lippe Plant’s areas of expertise to its list of the twelve best projects in North Rhine-Westphalia. At this site, industrial and household waste is recycled and turned into primary products for industrial businesses, waste and residual materials are transformed into fuels and, last but by no means least, biomass is recycled or used to generate energy. These three areas of expertise alone reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 416,000 tonnes every year – and are, therefore, getting as close as technically possible to achieving fully closed cycles. The Lippe Plant flagship project is becoming ever more effective. It is high time that this model becomes the norm so that future generations also have a planet worth living on.

    Yours

    Thomas Conzendorf

The REMEX Group is helping local authorities

  • Even though Germany enjoys high recycling rates, there is always a certain amount of mineral construction and demolition waste or slag that cannot be recycled and so must be taken to landfill. A number of regions around the country are finding themselves facing an imminent shortage of landfill space – primarily because many of the current landfills are due to close in the not too distant future. The REMEX Group, a company belonging to REMONDIS, has been entering into public private partnerships to provide local authorities with reliable solutions to this problem and help them increase their landfill capacities.

A need for landfill space

  • A group of experts met at the IFAT 2016 at the beginning of June to discuss the landfilling of mineral waste. Everyone present – whether they were politicians, business people or scientists – agreed that priority must always be given to materials recycling. At the same time, though, they also reiterated the need to have the necessary landfill space available across the country for residual materials that are unable to be recycled for re-use. In practice, however, it is not so easy to set up new landfills as there is a distinct lack of suitable land. Local authorities are finding it difficult to guarantee space for landfill materials.

Using existing landfills twice

ZAK (Zentrale Abfallwirtschaft Kaiserslautern) and REMEX have proven that it is possible to find intelligent solutions to this problem with their ‘landfill on a landfill’ concept. At the centre of this project: ZAK’s old landfill at its Kapiteltal site near Kaiserslautern in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Here, the partners have created additional landfill space following the principle of “new on old”. This new landfill section uses around 21 hectares of old landfill space as well as a further 10 hectares of the Kapiteltal valley immediately bordering this area. Due to be completed this year, this “new” landfill will provide a safe and environmentally compatible area for a total of around 7.2 million cubic metres of slightly polluted mineral waste (so-called ‘DK1’ landfill category). Plans are for it to accept waste until 2052.

REMEX Deponiegesellschaft Kapiteltal mbH is ZAK’s partner for this project and will also be responsible for marketing activities.

This well thought-out extension of the existing landfill saves space, is to be run using the latest technology and also ensures that the original landfill does not impact negatively on the environment. Moreover, it guarantees that the region has sufficient landfill space to provide its local inhabitants, the construction sector and industrial businesses with a safe place to deposit their waste.

Environmental & economic benefits

This smart solution has a number of other advantages as well: the company will be able to use both its team of experienced staff and its existing infrastructure to operate the new landfill – both of which will help keep the fees stable and take the pressure off the public purse. This joint project has also proven to be well worth its while as far as the investment sum is concerned, as a considerable amount of money has been and will continue to be needed to create the landfill as well as to seal it off and landscape it in the future. Clear proof, therefore, that it is more than possible for local authorities to meet their landfill needs in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way.

  • “There has been great interest in this public private partnership – and not only in Rhineland-Palatinate but in other German states, too.”

    Andreas Herb, Managing Director of REMEX SüdWest GmbH, Karlsruhe

Pooling together know-how & individual strengths

ZAK opted to collaborate with the REMEX Group following a Europe-wide tender. Each partner has been able to contribute their various strengths. This creates both synergies and advantages. On the one hand, ZAK is able to fulfil its municipal duties as the owner of the landfill ensuring that there is sufficient space available and that fees remain stable. Being its private sector partner, the REMEX Group bears all costs and long-term financial risks connected to building, operating and, later, managing the landfill after it has been closed down. Furthermore, REMEX will be marketing the landfill space agreed on in the contract, helping to make sure the site is run cost-effectively. REMEX will be making the very most of its years of experience of this specialist business and of its know-how from operating numerous landfill projects – strengths from which the Kaiserslautern region will benefit for many years to come.

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