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  • Dear Readers!

    Many people in Europe could hardly believe the news when they woke up on 24 June to discover a slim majority of Britons had voted in favour of Brexit. Leading economists, politicians, business people, artists and scientists had repeatedly called for the UK to remain in the EU so that the problems of globalisation could be tackled together as one strong community. Their words were in vain; the majority of Britons decided that the best way forward was to take a step back towards the sup­posedly good old days of 'splendid isolation'. No-one at that time, however, could have anticipated that this was just a precursor of an even bigger political earthquake. On 08.11. American voters elected Donald Trump to be their next president. Never before had the country experienced such a populist movement and his comments do not bode well either for the global economy or for a peaceful co-existence between nations. Only time will tell whether or to what extent President Trump will try and change global economic and political structures. Only then will we be able to see what impact this will all have on Europe. However, no matter how much the new President tries to deny the very existence of climate change, there is one thing that is clear right now: the world’s population will continue to grow and the challenges of meeting people’s needs and tackling the planet’s environmental problems will not become easier in the future. Our recommendation to Donald Trump, therefore, would be to take a look at the country of his ancestors – at Germany, where solutions are already being developed to create a sustainable supply of raw materials for the future.  

    Over 40 years ago, when the recycling sector was just beginning to find its feet in Germany (thanks also to the many contributions made by REMONDIS), there were approx. 3.5 billion people living on our planet. At that time, recycling was considered by many to be nothing more than a bit of a gimmick. The world had enough raw materials and plenty of space for storing waste – so why do more than we have to? The human race needed just under 100,000 years to reach 3.5 billion people. This figure has doubled within just 40 years! By 2050, it is expected to rise to 10 billion. The so-called Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year, was even earlier this year: on 08 August. Since then, we have effectively been living as if we have a second planet to fall back on.

    The recycling sector already offers solutions to these problems at a number of different levels: supplying raw materials, generating energy, protecting water supplies and the environment, curbing global warming and even taking on social responsibilities. 14% of the raw materials used in Germany are supplied by the recycling industry, an important step to separating economic growth and the consumption of natural resources from one another. If our production processes are to be sustainable and affordable in the future, then all products and raw materials must be recovered and reused. For this to be possible, however, politicians around the world must drive this development and introduce ambitious laws to ensure it happens. We need higher recycling targets and mandatory ecodesign guidelines that force manufacturers to design their products so that they can be fully recycled once they reach the end of their useful life.

    Recycling would be become mandatory in a future where all raw materials and products – no matter whether it be a smartphone, car or plane – must be designed in line with ecological criteria. Children working in mines in third world countries would be a thing of the past. Wars would no longer be fought to gain access to natural resources. Innovative processes would mean that our wastewater could be used to produce clean drinking water and as a source of phosphorus for fertilisers, building supplies and energy. Collecting and recycling organic waste around the globe and turning it into high quality compost or using it to generate renewable energy would, for the most part, solve the problem of climate change – and also provide great prospects for growth.

    With this optimistic look into the future, may I wish you and your families a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

    Ludger Rethmann

Three-day REMONDIS conference in Cologne

REMONDIS’ International Management Meeting was held in Cologne this year from 04 to 06 October. REMONDIS board member, Egbert Tölle, welcomed 70 managers from all around the world to the event. This three-day conference was used to present the company’s latest results, to explain the group’s global strategy as well as to discuss the possibility of expanding into new international markets.

An important opportunity to exchange experiences

This annual management meeting is also extremely important as it enables the managing directors from the company’s many different international subsidiaries to discuss business with one another – something that is becoming increasingly necessary with the group’s international activities expanding so rapidly. Over the three days in Cologne, therefore, they exchanged experiences, presented their successful concepts and developed ideas for improving their own business operations. Moreover, an impressive supporting programme had been organised that focused on the ‘cities of the future’ this year.

Interesting talks from the guest speakers

  • Prominent speakers from the technology and logistics sectors had been invited to attend the event including Pedro Miranda, corporate vice president responsible for SIEMENS One, Dr Johannes F. Kirchhoff, managing partner of the Kirchhoff Group, and Dr Armin Vogel, managing director of SSI Schäfer. In their talks, they presented the way their companies believed urban areas would develop over the coming years. Besides portraying their industry-specific visions of future megacities, they also took a look at the general challenges and opportunities that such developments will entail.

Modern technologies hugely important

  • Many of the guests felt that their predictions of how environmental services will develop in the future to be extremely bold. They all, however, agreed on one thing: the way modern technology develops will be crucial for the smart cities of the future.

    Town planners will find themselves hitting a barrier if the right technology is not available. Looking at the basic needs of city inhabitants – such as drinking water supply, transport and practical waste management systems – then developing state-of-the-art technology is a must if the environmental sector is to function effectively.

    REMONDIS’ international managers were joined by prominent speakers from the technology and logistics sectors.

    At the end of the three days, the international managers taking part in this year’s REMONDIS Management Meet­ing were able to return to their homelands with the many new and inspirational ideas discussed in the historical city of Cologne.

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