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  • Dear Readers!

    There is a political stalemate in Germany at the moment. With four of the six parties elected to Germany’s new Parliament failing to find a compromise so that they can form a government, the country’s political future – at the time we went to print – is more uncertain than ever. A so-called Jamaica coalition, which gets its name from the colours of the different parties: black for the two Conservative coalition partners CDU and CSU, yellow for the Liberals FDP, and green for the Bündnis90/Die Grünen (the colours of the Jamaican flag), would appear to no longer be an option after the parties’ exploratory talks broke down on 19 November. At the same time, the Social Democrats seem to be sticking to their decision not to form another ‘grand coalition’ with their Conservative counterparts. There are certainly some huge political hurdles to overcome. Whilst some would prefer more state control, others are looking to follow a more typically liberal course with greater freedom for businesses. The Green’s desire to speed up the move towards an energy sector without fossil fuels (including shutting down coal-fired power stations and getting rid of internal combustion engines earlier than planned) is proving to be an obstacle for those with more conservative political interests. And, whilst the Liberals are finally fighting to expand digital networks in rural areas, the Conservatives would appear to be merely paying digital lip service to this subject.

    And yet there is no time to lose. The economy is already going through a structural change as a result of the next industrial revolution and this revolution is both digital and electrical. It has come at a time when the world is facing the huge challenges of climate change and a growing number of environmental problems which, in the end, will make it difficult to meet the global population’s needs.

    Even sand – a substance we would seem to be surrounded by – is becoming scarce. And, once again, it is our industry that has come up with a solution. If we are to curb global warming, move away from fossil fuels and conserve our planet’s raw materials, then setting up a genuine circular economy must be at the very centre of a government’s policy. If Germany, a country with so few natural resources of its own, is to remain an important industrial location in the future as supplies of raw materials become ever scarcer, then the spotlight must be turned on recycling. Recycling must be at the forefront of everyone’s minds, especially of product designers. The foundations were created for this when the Packaging Law was introduced during the last legislative period as this lays down product responsibility and market-based measures to promote recycling. What is needed now is to transfer these standards so that they apply to all products.
     
    There is always much to celebrate at the end of the year. REMONDIS is, for example, celebrating sixty years of plastics recycling at RE PLANO and, of course, that you – our custom-ers, friends, partners and employees – have remained loyal to us throughout the year. Together, day by day, we can help make the world that little bit more sustainable.
     
    We would like to thank you for your great support and collab-oration over the last twelve months and wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful New Year.

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

The subject is still topical

  • Mithat Gedik smiles and looks a little embarrassed when he is asked about his “famous story”. “That happened a long time ago but it is, of course, still a topical subject,” he said – and so he agreed to describe what happened three years ago when he set the ball rolling for greater religious equality.

Dedicated to both his job and his local community

Mithat Gedik is 36 years old and is German – and he not only grew up in this country, he was born here. The subjects on his high school leaving certificate also include the Catholic religion. He is married, has four children and has been a site manager at REMONDIS for three years now. When he joined the company, REMONDIS’ south west regional division had just opened a plastics processing facility in Mannheim and had been looking for an expert who had the know-how and personnel management skills to run this plant. Mithat had already made a name for himself in this sector. He knows all about plastics, gets on really well with all those around him and is a very tactful person. He is also ambitious and has a good head for business. Today, he no longer only manages the plastics plant but is also the operational manager for the whole of REMONDIS’ site in Mannheim. Besides running the plastics processing facility, he is in charge of the South West Region’s transfer station – which handles 6,000 tonnes of plastics, 25,000 tonnes of old paper and 3,000 tonnes of commercial waste every year – and the central workshop. Mannheim is not his hometown, however: he grew up in Sönnern in the District of Werl 330 kilometres away. All of the 870 people living in Sönnern know Mithat as he has always done everything he can to support the local community – for example by joining the voluntary fire brigade and the ‘Schützenverein’ (a local voluntary association focusing on shooting as a sport).

The case attracted national attention

His story hit the national headlines because – and this is what the story is all about – Mithat is also a Moslem. Every year, ‘Schützenvereins’ across the country hold a shooting contest to determine who will be their new king, their ‘Schützenkönig’. A wooden bird is placed at the top of a pole and the person who shoots it down is the new king. Newspaper articles appeared across the country – in Spiegel Online, Süddeutsche and FAZ to name just a few – when Mithat shot down the wooden bird in the summer of 2014. It wasn’t long before the BHDS [Association of historical German shooting fraternities] got to hear of this. The by-laws of these shooting fraternities, which had been written almost 90 years ago, stipulated that a member must be Christian. The association demanded that Mithat stand down as ‘Schützenkönig’ because of his religion. “I found the whole thing more than a little strange. I am a German citizen with Turkish roots. I was born and brought up in Germany. My family background had never been a problem before,” explained Mithat Gedik. His fellow “Schützen” brothers stood by him and announced that they would all leave the club if Mithat was forced to stand down. The story spread through the media like wildfire; even the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency stepped in. This was a fundamental matter of political importance as it centred on the coexistence and equality of religions.

By-laws successfully changed

As a preliminary measure, the association drew up an exemption clause for Mithat Gedik so that he could be ‘Schützenkönig’. A proposal to change the by-laws to include non-Christians was not discussed by the BHDS until this year – three years later. Mithat was not at the meeting even though he was the reason for this discussion in the first place. He was, though, very happy to hear that the proposal had been accepted. “At the end of the day, we have only solved one of many problems. This discussion won’t end here. Even though we’re living in the 21st Century, there are many others who think differently,” he concluded summing up his story.

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