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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

Too many scrap cars are being sent abroad

Every year, several million cars are taken off the roads in Germany because they have reached the end of their useful life. Just one in four of these vehicles, however, remain in the country so that they can be professionally recycled. This is just one of the conclusions reached by the Prognos Institute which recently carried out a study looking into the recycling of end of life vehicles (ELVs) on behalf of Scholz Recycling and TSR Recycling.

More than 4m tonnes of raw materials are being lost

According to this study, only 1.1 million tonnes of the approx. 5.2 million tonnes of raw materials found in ELVs in Germany will be recovered in 2030. The German economy is losing out by around 2.4 billion euros every year as a result of the way scrap cars are currently being recycled. The reason is simple: the German economy is currently unable to access these valuable raw materials as they are not being recovered and have to buy new and more expensive materials from elsewhere.

Just 1 in 4 scrap cars are actually recycled in Germany – which means the German economy is losing out by more than 2.4 billion euros every year.

“The figures published in this study are really alarming and make it very clear indeed just how badly Germany needs an ELV recycling solution that provides more guidance and control,” explained Bernd Fleschenberg, managing director of TSR Recycling GmbH & Co. KG. “Which is why different groups – in particular, politicians and the automobile industry – need to help come up with a sustainable solution,” he continued. The two companies, TSR and Scholz, have put forward their own proposal: to establish a central ELV recycling office. Its task would be to collect documents and proof from the industrial businesses to ensure scrap cars are being recycled correctly. This office could be financed via a levy charged for each new car sold in the future. Both recyclers could also well imagine there being a kind of deposit return system.

“The figures published in this study are really alarming and make it very clear indeed just how badly Germany needs an ELV recycling solution that provides more guidance and control.”

Bernd Fleschenberg, Managing Director of TSR Recycling GmbH & Co. KG

More and more plastic & composite materials are being used

This study also highlights another problem. The combination and composition of the materials used to make cars will have changed significantly by 2030. While steel made up more than 70% of each car scrapped in 2000, this figure will have dropped to around just 55% by 2030. The share of the more than 50 different types of plastics and composite materials will have doubled from the current 15% to approx. 30%.

If a genuine circular economy is to be achieved, therefore, intensive discussions need to be held with the automobile industry. Effective recycling solutions can only be offered if the recycling firms know exactly how and what materials are used in the vehicles. “The goal must be to involve the recycling sector right from the start, i.e. in the actual development phase so that thought is put into how the individual raw materials can be recovered. This is the only way to create a truly sustainable circular economy,” Bernd Fleschenberg concluded. What’s more, this would not only reduce carbon emissions – as producing recycled materials consumes less energy than using primary raw materials – it would also reduce the industry’s dependency on imports and help conserve our planet’s natural resources.

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