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  • Dear Readers!

    “I believe in horses. Automobiles are a passing phenomenon.” These are the words said to have been uttered by the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, at the time when mobility was going through a radical change. No one can say for sure whether he really said this or not but it is a quote that is often used as an example of people badly misjudging the importance of an invention – and not just by futurologists. Today, mobility is once again undergoing a radical change. In some areas of the country, air quality has deteriorated so much that politicians, industrial businesses and consumers are being forced to rethink the way they act, in particular in large cities. The diesel scandal has simply further aggravated the situation. The first councils have begun banning old diesel cars from using the roads where air pollution is highest. At the same time, city planners are focusing almost entirely on creating living space and high quality office buildings. In contrast, tradespeople and commercial businesses, such as recycling firms, are gradually being pushed further and further outside the city. Their work though should continue to be quiet, free of dust and, wherever possible, without CO2 or NOX emissions.

    It’s definitely time to start thinking about possible alternatives. What could be better than using one of the country’s waste streams – i.e. organic waste – as a source of post-fossil fuel and, by doing so, enable waste collections to be carbon-neutral and practically free of fine particulate and NOX emissions? REMONDIS has begun a pilot project near Cologne to do just this and is currently testing six vehicles run on biogas.

    The recycling industry has a new market player: the Schwarz Group (Lidl), which has an annual turnover of EUR 96.7 billion (2017) – bigger than the whole of the German recycling sector put together. Earlier this year, the Schwarz Group’s subsidiary, Green Cycle, purchased Tönsmeier, the fifth-largest recycling company in Germany, acquiring a volume of sales three times bigger than all of the acquisitions made by REMONDIS in 2016 and 2017. Industry experts believe that the Schwarz Group will also enter Germany’s ‘Dual System’ market (kerbside collection of sales packaging) in the not too distant future.

    There is so much happening in the German recycling market at the moment – a market which, according to the “Status Report on the German Circular Economy”, has around 10,800 companies competing against each other. While none of the private sector firms has a monopoly in any area of the waste management and recycling industry, the trend towards councils renationalising waste services continues unabated leading to the creation of regional monopolies. As a result, the private sector’s share of the market is also slowly decreasing. At present, for example, its share of conventional waste collection services lies at around 50% of the overall market. As always, we hope you enjoy reading this latest issue of REMONDIS AKTUELL.

    Yours

    Thomas Conzendorf

Mostly ignored in public tenders

There are a whole number of good environmental and business reasons for using recycled aggregate – and not just when it comes to awarding building contracts. Which makes it all the more surprising that this useful secondary aggregate is too often sidelined in public tenders in Germany. What needs to be done to ensure this resource-efficient material gets the attention it deserves?

Recycled aggregate has many advantages

The technical properties of quality-assured recycled and secondary aggregate are no different to those of naturally sourced aggregate. Which means this material can be used in construction projects instead of primary aggregate (such as gravel, sand or basalt) – helping to conserve our planet’s natural resources. What’s more, using recycled raw materials reduces land consumption. On the one hand, less countryside is destroyed as fewer primary raw materials need to be quarried and, on the other, less land is needed for landfill as this material is recycled and reused. Having been used in so many projects, recycled and secondary aggregate has more than proven its worth. Despite all these arguments in its favour, however, it is still being ignored far too often in public procurement processes.

Clear intentions but no effective implementation plans

There are two laws that govern the way the public sector awards contracts for construction projects in Germany: procurement law and waste law (part of environment law). Waste law is based heavily on the German Circular Economy Law [KrWG]. This, in turn, is supplemented with the waste laws of the individual German states. In principle, all these regulations aim to promote the resource-friendly use of recycled aggregate. The main reason why this material still tends not to be used, however, can be put down to the fact that the laws primarily contain voluntary options.

There is a lack of legal obligations giving priority to and making it mandatory for recycled aggregate to be part of the procurement process.

The German states can help change this situation so that we move away from the current voluntary options towards making it obligatory to use recycled aggregate. An amended version of the German Circular Economy Law come into force in 2012 (in response to a new EU Waste Directive) and each state has had to adapt their state waste laws to reflect these changes. Only 11 of the 16 German states have done this so far. The result is a somewhat vague collection of laws. Not only do they have different names, they also have different contents. And they regulate the use of recycled aggregate differently – with some states looking into this subject in detail and others less so.

Rhineland-Palatinate is leading the way

Rhineland-Palatinate’s amended law is serving as a role model here as its state circular economy law stipulates that priority must be given to recycled aggregate in public procurement processes. It prescribes that local authorities must give preference to recycled products if they are suitable for the planned project and the costs are not unreasonable.

The branded products, remexit® and granova®, can be used in a variety of areas thanks to their strictly defined properties and stringent quality controls.

Thuringia passed its amendment and implementation law in November 2017 and is also heading in the right direction. It expressly points out that the public sector should act as a role model. Local authorities in Thuringia are obliged by law to give preference to products that come from resource-friendly and low-waste production processes or from the recycling sector – which is true for recycled aggregate. Saxony is also looking to push forward the use of recycled products and is currently in the process of drawing up its new state circular economy law.

The German parliament must also step up to the mark

It can only be hoped that the states that have not yet amended their laws will do so quickly in order to actively encourage the use of sustainable and resource-friendly products in public construction projects. And that these remaining states make the most of this opportunity to make it obligatory for local authorities to choose recycled aggregate over other materials. Having said that, though, an even better solution would be if the German parliament were to introduce regulations that applied across the whole of the country instead of having these differing solutions in each individual state.

  • REMEX leads the European market with its high quality recycled aggregate and quality-controlled secondary aggregate

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