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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

Not your common or garden type of waste

  • Hair spray, spray paint, rust remover – all these products are sold in aerosol cans. They can be found in households, workshops and businesses and are being used all the time – but what happens to them when they are no longer needed?

    What people shouldn’t do is to throw them into their residual waste bin or recycling bin. Aerosol cans are listed as hazardous waste whether they are empty, partially full or full and there are strict regulations about how they should be processed. Households must hand them in to centres that accept hazardous waste. Industrial and commercial businesses are obliged, by law, to store their used aerosols in special containers and ensure they are disposed of and/or recycled properly. REMONDIS Industrie Service’s RESPRAY division provides its customers with a system of containers that fulfils all these rules and regulations. The containers have special antistatic, perforated liners and various vents to eliminate any danger of explosions whilst they are in use. This is vital as the propellants – propane, butane and dimethyl ether – are highly inflammable and can cause an explosion if they come into contact with oxygen.

    Aerosols are hazardous waste whether they are empty, partially full or full; there are strict regulations about how they should be stored, transported and recycled

The risks are not being taken seriously enough

A quick glance at the recycling market, however, makes it very clear that the majority of people are unaware of these risks. Only ten percent of the 1.3 billion aerosol cans produced in Germany each year are recycled using safe and eco-friendly means. Until just recently, many recycling facilities were already working to full capacity despite this low figure. Three years ago, REMONDIS set about finding a solution to this problem.

“Quite apart from the risks that these cans pose – risks that really shouldn’t be taken lightly – aerosols contain valuable materials, some of which can be recycled again and again and again. Recycling them, therefore, is good for both the environment and the economy and helps conserve natural resources.”

Robert Sonnenschein, Managing Director of REMONDIS Industrie Service

State-of-the-art facility in Bramsche

  • The result of this research work is a specialised, state-of-the-art recycling plant from Canada which began operations in the Bramsche Industrial Recycling Centre in July. RESPRAY decided to invest in this new technology to further extend its leading position on the market as well as to drive the market as a whole. “Quite apart from the risks that these cans pose – risks that really shouldn’t be taken lightly – aerosols contain valuable materials, some of which can be recycled again and again and again. Recycling them, therefore, is good for both the environment and the economy and helps conserve natural resources,” commented Robert Sonnenschein, managing director of REMONDIS Industrie Service, who had travelled to the Canadian city of Ontario in 2013 to visit the manufacturer and find out more about their technology. He was impressed by what he saw: 6,500 tonnes of aerosols processed every year, a technology that recycles, a safer environment for the workforce and a lower energy bill.

Safe treatment & a viable business

  • This exclusive technology has clearly increased the amount of materials recovered for recycling: a compressor liquefies the extracted propellant gas so it can be used as a source of energy – just like any residual substances left in the aerosol cans. The machine (operated at 300 bar and under inert conditions) compacts the metals into round briquettes. These are then sent straight to industrial businesses. “This truly is a milestone in the recycling of aerosols,” concluded Robert Sonnenschein.

    • 80 guests were invited to Bramsche Industrial Recycling Centre to see the new plant being officially opened by managing directors Robert Sonnenschein (left) and Klaus Scherler (2nd right)

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