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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

Over 300 guests from the worlds of politics, science & business

  • “Human capital and leadership skills – Training as a resource.” This was the motto of this year’s REMONDIS Forum, which was held in the German City of Goslar to mark the 20 years’ collaboration work between the city authorities and REMONDIS Aqua's subsidiary, EURAWASSER. Over 300 guests from the worlds of politics, science and business accepted REMONDIS Aqua’s invitation and attended the event, which took place this September, to take a close look at and discuss the potential performance of today’s workforce and how training and education can impact on this.

Focus on leadership

  • The forum centred around the speeches given by a number of distinguished guests who talked, for example, about the latest challenges managers have to face as a result of the rapid technological progress being made and demographic change. The audience was first welcomed to Goslar by Andreas Bankamp, managing director of REMONDIS Aqua, Dr Oliver Junk, Lord Mayor of Goslar, and Gerhard Lenz, director of the World Heritage Site Rammelsberg. Urs Meier, the retired FIFA referee from Switzerland, then stepped up to the podium to kick off the proceedings.

      One of the speakers this year: former FIFA referee Urs Meier

    • Using some entertaining anecdotes from his time on the football pitch as a referee, he had no difficulty in getting his message across to all those present: managers must not only be able to blow a whistle but must also be able to make decisions – because they are the ones that must take over responsibility.

A look back with Norbert Rethmann

One very successful decision-maker, the honorary chairman of the supervisory board of the RETHMANN Group Norbert Rethmann, agreed with everything that Urs Meier had to say. During his speech, he took a look back at the decisions he had had to make to grow his family-run business. Not long after he had taken over his parents’ haulage business, he began asking himself a number of questions: ‘Isn’t waste far too valuable to be simply dumped in landfills?’ and ‘Doesn’t waste impact negatively on our environment if it remains untreated?’ Nowadays, practically all kinds of residual materials can be and are recycled by the RETHMANN Group companies.

The recycling industry is becoming ever more important

  • Its subsidiary, Saria, even recycles fish and abattoir waste, recovering important substances for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. Heparin, for example, is produced from pig intestines – an important substance for preventing the coagulation of the blood. “Waste materials, no matter what kind they may be, are the raw materials of the future. The importance of the recycling industry will overtake that of the chemicals or automobile industries within the next decade,” commented Norbert Rethmann during his speech at the REMONDIS Forum in Goslar.

    Andreas Bankamp, Managing Director REMONDIS Aqua, Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, and Norbert Rethmann, Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the RETHMANN Group, stand for responsibility and management expertise

A humorous look at IT

Tobias Schrödel followed this with a humorous look at a very new kind of management: “Hacking for Managers – a different approach to IT security”. Here, he described the world of hackers, explaining all about their IT ‘chest of poisons’ and pointing out security loopholes in a most entertaining way. Cracking passwords in no time at all, publishing home addresses and supposedly discredited information – the audience was fascinated and shocked by what he had to say.

Sigmar Gabriel on the rostrum

  • Next at the podium was Federal Minister Sigmar Gabriel who held a talk about demographic change and promoting integration. The leader of the SPD party presented some telling figures: whilst Germany’s current workforce consists of 50 million people, this figure will have dropped to just 43.5 million by 2030. The country’s population will, in all probability, have fallen from 82 million to 73 million by 2060.

    Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, talked about a number of subjects including integration and how to provide people with the support they need

Whilst Germany’s current workforce consists of 50 million people, this figure will have dropped to just 43.5 million by 2030.

It is, therefore, essential that the country responds to this extremely rapid demographic change and ensure that the refugees arriving in Germany are successfully integrated into society. What is essential here is having a strong and well-functioning economy and having parliament draw up the necessary conditions to enable this to happen, Sigmar Gabriel explained.

The country’s population will, in all probability, have fallen from 82 million to 73 million by 2060.

Emphasis must not be put on saving money but on investing it. He also had a clear message for the refugees: “Integration is hard work. We must prevent parallel societies from developing around the country”. Those seeking political asylum in Germany need our support but they must also step up to the mark, too. “Immigration must be seen as an opportunity,” Sigmar Gabriel continued. People who travel to Germany to escape poverty and hardship must not be ostracised but must be allowed to join in and become part of our society. However, realism is just as important as optimism. “Demographic change – coupled with the current immigration levels – is one of the largest experiments that an industrialised nation has ever had to face.”

  • Over 300 guests attended this year’s REMONDIS Forum

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