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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 REMONDIS Group’s first recycling facility

  • Plastikwerke Nordwalde is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It was from this company that REMONDIS’ subsidiary, RE Plano, later emerged – its name being made up of the first few letters of the company’s three names. The factory had originally been set up to mass produce plastic. Its business soon changed direction, however, when it became the REMONDIS Group’s first plastics recycling facility.

Plano’s pioneering role

After Norbert Rethmann had begun developing his own ideas and technology in the German town of Selm to recycle plastic, he then purchased Plano in 1982 and turned it into the first plastics recycling facility. This site was to become the centre of plastics recycling. Different types of processing technology, such as magnet and eddy current separators, were developed and improved here together with the help of engineers. More and more companies began to take an interest in what was happening in Nordwalde and tried to get a foothold on the market as well. Even back then, Plano spent much time looking at how the business could be further developed: DM 2 million were invested in a second treatment line, which included shredding, washing and separator technology, as well as in a new extruder.

Second facility opened in Lünen in 1996

The then environment minister, Klaus Matthiesen, attended the official opening. Plano was proud to have created a market for recycled plastic granules and of its position as the pioneer of plastics recycling. And yet, to begin with, German red tape made it impossible for the business to be a success. Plastic products, such as pipes, pallets and bins, are all subject to DIN standards – and back then these standards did not allow the use of recycled plastic. Tests on the product ruled that the recycled plastic was too rough and not of a sufficiently consistent quality. Norbert Rethmann found these findings absurd as he was utterly convinced of the quality of his company’s recycled plastic granules. And so he made another attempt when he purchased the Lippe Plant in Lünen and looked for niches in the market. A second plant was commissioned in Lünen in 1996 which focused exclusively on recycling plastic packaging film. Initially, this idea proved to be a success but then a new problem emerged as the market became increasingly globalised: with the introduction of dumping prices, huge volumes of this plastic were suddenly being shipped to China. The resulting lack of input material meant the recycling facilities were making a loss and both were closed down in 2005.

  • “The demand for high quality recycled raw materials has grown and there is a huge potential here.”

    Ralf Mandelatz, Managing Director at RE Plano

High quality recycled granules and compounds

Growing consumption and a new sales concept brought Plano’s business back to the fore. The facility in Lünen was converted and recommissioned; the plant in Nordwalde remained closed and was later sold. Managing director, Ralf Mandelatz, commented: “Fortunately, we can leave the past where it belongs – in the past. The demand for high quality recycled raw materials has grown and there is a huge potential here. New fields of application are being found for recycled raw materials. This gives us the security we need to invest in our business and further strengthen our position as the market leader.” A number of different plastics are recycled at the Lippe Plant now, including polythene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP) and polyamide (PA). Further material streams are to be added to this list next year. In 2018, the facility will begin processing polystyrene (PS) and ABS that has been sorted by Electrorecycling to transform these two streams into high quality recycled plastic granules and compounds.

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