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  • Dear Readers!

    “We are made wise not by the recollection of our past but by the responsibility for our future.” This piece of wisdom was uttered by the great Irish author George Bernard Shaw and it would certainly appear to be true looking at the challenges that humans are having to face today: the need to protect the environment and prevent climate change, to supply sufficient quantities of food and raw materials but to conserve our planet’s natural resources at the same time. Taking on responsibility for the future means nothing less than acting and doing business in a responsible way today so that future generations have a world that they are able to live in. Being a family-run company that is committed to sustainability in each and every sector it operates in, this is exactly what we intend to do. We have, therefore, added a new slogan to reflect this mission:
    From now on, the REMONDIS logo will appear together with the strapline ‘Working for the future’. This is not some empty promise: every day, the 30,000+ people working for REMONDIS prove this is the case by collecting, sorting and processing recyclables, by ensuring our soils are clean and full of nutrients, by supplying water and treating wastewater, by generating sustainable biogas and energy and by carrying out joint public-private sector work to keep cities clean and roads safe. REMONDIS is, therefore, working for the future right now so that our children and their descendants have urban areas and indeed a planet that are worth living in. The present gives us the opportunity to change – and change is definitely what is needed if we wish to shape the future.

    One example in the Netherlands clearly shows that our neighbours are also thinking of the future. When a Dutch municipal company sells all its commercial activities to REMONDIS, it is certainly worth asking why they decided to do this. In an interview with REMONDIS aktuell, ROVA managing director Hans Groenhuis explains how European public procurement law determines whether a company can be awarded an “in-house contract” and why it is advisable for local authorities throughout Europe to think about giving up their commercial activities altogether.

    Just how satisfied are our public sector customers and what can REMONDIS do to further improve the way it supports local authorities to provide public services? We wanted to hear details here and so we asked them. The results of the customer survey, which was carried out by an independent institute on behalf of REMONDIS, are both encouraging and an incentive at the same time. It is certainly good news when not only our regular customers express their great satisfaction with the company but also the overwhelming majority of our past customers who could well imagine working together with REMONDIS again in the future. We will not, however, be sitting back on our laurels. There is always room for improvement when it comes to serving local inhabitants. REMONDIS will be doing everything in its power to optimise its portfolio and to provide both its contractual partners and those receiving its services with the best possible solutions at fair and favourable conditions. Working for people. Working for the future. 

    I hope you enjoy reading this edition of REMONDIS aktuell.
    Yours

    Thomas Conzendorf 

Innovative process to protect the Baltic Sea

  • The central sewage treatment plant in Rostock is on the Unterwarnow estuary not far from the Baltic Sea and has the capacity to treat wastewater from 320,000 inhabitants (or rather 220,000 inhabitants plus industrial and commercial businesses). In the middle of the 90s, it was almost completely rebuilt at a cost of around 82 million euros. State-of-the-art technology is now in place, such as the biological counter-current filtration process, BIOFOR, which is used in the biological treatment stage. BIOFOR stands for “biological fixed film oxygen reactor”. This innovative process is making an important contribution to protecting the Baltic Sea and the River Warne which flows through the City of Rostock into the sea. Thanks to the modernisation of the plant, levels of phosphorus in the Baltic Sea have been reduced by 150t each year and nitrogen by 800t.

Efficient and space-saving technology

  • Before the sewage treatment plant was extended and modernised, it had operated using just one single treatment stage. As part of the modernisation project, the facility was expanded to include a second and third treatment stage. The result: the biological counter-current filtration process (BIOFOR) was used here for the very first time in Germany. This innovative system can react flexibly and quickly to the conditions, even if there are great variations in the volumes of wastewater. Moreover, this highly efficient technology requires very little space in the sewage treatment plant so that it was not necessary to move the plant from its location in the Rostock-Bramow district.

Greater flexibility thanks to additional filters

    The central sewage treatment plant at the mouth of the Warne in Rostock is one of the most modern wastewater treatment facilities in Germany

    The two-step biological treatment system, consisting of an aeration basin followed by a two-stage bio-filtration process, is one of the special features of the Rostock sewage treatment plant. The BIOFOR facility carries out the final cleaning process before the wastewater is discharged into the Warnow. As a result of the bio-filtration (with nitrification and de-nitrification), solids, phosphorus compounds and, above all, the greatly varying amounts of nitrogen that occur during heavy rainfall are also eliminated. In the past, these varying volumes of wastewater – caused by the weather – were a considerable problem for the sewage treatment plant. This is no longer the case for the new bio-filtration facility. It has an overall filter area of 876m2, distributed among a total of 12 nitrification and de-nitrification filters. The filter speeds vary between 5.2m/h in dry weather and 8.7m/h when it is raining. If the filter speed exceeds 8m/h, then another filter is activated. In contrast, if the speed slows down by 3m/h then a filter is turned off, although at least two filters are always working at the same time. Expanded clay is used as the filter material and as the carrier for the micro-organisms. Once the aerobic bio-filtration phase has been completed, it is possible to add iron(III) chloride to achieve phosphate precipitation. This means that, in the future, the valuable raw material, phosphate, will be able to be recovered from the wastewater.

    Thanks to EURAWASSER and BIOFOR, the quality of the treated water remains at a stable high level and only clean water flows into the Baltic Sea – no matter what the weather. 

Important contribution towards protecting the environment

EURAWASSER has received support from the University of Rostock throughout its BIOFOR project. The plant in Rostock was the first large sewage treatment plant in Germany to use the space-saving process that combined aeration and BIOFOR. The authorities, therefore, ruled that the process should be accompanied and observed by scientists over a three-year period. To this effect, a trial sewage treatment plant was operated that had been made available by the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Thanks to the BIOFOR biological counter-current filtration process, the performance of the plant is both stable and of a high quality and the discharge values are excellent. No matter whether the weather is dry or wet, the plant clearly lies below the ceiling limits for both nitrogen and phosphorus. This also helps to greatly improve the quality of the water in the Warnow and Baltic Sea. Consequently, it is making a considerable and sustainable contribution towards protecting the environment and to fulfilling the international treaties reached at the 1985 Helsinki Conference. As a result of putting the central sewage treatment plant into operation, Rostock has been removed from HELCOM’s list of “Hot Spots“. HELCOM is the international commission set up in 1974 to protect the Baltic Sea. 

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