Over the last twenty-eight years since the Berlin Wall fell, REMONDIS has succeeded in setting up a recycling centre in the very heart of this capital city whose wide range of services are helping to drive forward sustainability – benefiting both the local inhabitants and the businesses in the region. This development was not one that could be taken for granted for a family-run company that has its roots and head office in the small Westphalian town of Lünen almost 500 kilometres away. Quality and reliability have won through – two extremely important factors when it comes to providing sustainable services. Today, REMONDIS is able to offer around 550 people a secure job at its plant in the Lahnstraße in the Berlin district of Neukölln – helping to protect the environment, prevent climate change and conserve natural resources in and around Berlin.
REMONDIS has already created 550 sustainable jobs within the environmental sector in Berlin Neukölln
It is clear as soon as a visitor arrives at the entrance to the site that big things are happening inside. The company’s premises on the other side of the wide archway inscribed with REMONDIS’ name covers a good six hectares of land next to the east harbour. The building, which had previously been the head office of a former cable factory, symbolises the structural change that this area has undergone. These grounds are now home to a total of ten REMONDIS subsidiaries and a joint venture as well as REMONDIS’ logistics sister company, Rhenus. REMONDIS International’s office here manages all business operations in Poland and Eastern Europe. REMONDIS Industrieservice offers its industrial and commercial customers in and around Berlin a full range of hazardous waste management services as well as industrial maintenance work. REMONDIS Medison handles the region’s medical waste from its offices in Berlin Neukölln. REMONDIS GmbH provides container services for storing and transporting commercial waste and collaborates with Berlin council in a whole range of areas to recover raw materials from waste. UCL, also a fully owned subsidiary of REMONDIS, offers its portfolio of analytical laboratory services, taking samples of and analysing the materials due to be processed – services that are also available to external customers based in Berlin. Moreover, the laboratory carries out important groundwork for developing new innovative recycling processes.
10 REMONDIS companies share the premises in the Lahnstraße; they all came to Berlin and they are all here to stay.
TSR – the REMONDIS Group’s metal recycling specialists – collects metal scrap from businesses in and around Berlin and tranships it at the harbour opposite REMONDIS’ premises. What’s more, REMONDIS Data Office provides its customers with a range of secure data and file destruction services. Rhenus’ archive service is always of great interest to anyone who enjoys history: all the files are stored in the building that used to house the Treuhand Gesellschaft, the institute responsible for privatising East German firms. Innotec also has offices here in Berlin that offer a comprehensive portfolio of property management services as well as advice on optimising waste collection schemes at housing estates.
If emphasis is to be put on protecting the environment and curbing climate change, then there are two REMONDIS plants in the Lahnstraße that should be given a special mention. The first is REMONDIS Electrorecycling’s WEEE dismantling centre, in which five million euros were invested two years ago. This upgrade has made it the most modern facility of its kind in the east of Germany. Its operations focus primarily on accepting and dismantling all types and sizes of cooling appliances. Coolants, propellants and the now banned CFCs are removed from the devices using environmentally compatible processes – essential work for slowing down climate change. The volume of raw materials they recover is impressive: absolutely all of the metals are recovered and recycled so they can be returned to production cycles. The recycling rates of the other materials are also at the highest levels possible with today’s technology. The few remaining pollutants and residual materials are sent to special processing facilities or disposed of using professional systems. The recycling centre is able to handle around 35,000 tonnes of WEEE every year.
The amount of paper sorted is more or less the equivalent of the amount of timber found in a forest the size of Berlin’s Grunewald Forest
The second large recycling plant is the paper sorting plant run by WUB (Wertstoff-Union Berlin GmbH), a joint venture between REMONDIS and Berlin Recycling, a fully owned subsidiary of BSR. Approx. 10 million euros were invested in this facility in Neukölln which is now one of the most modern paper sorting plants in the country. 20 new jobs have been created since it opened. Using a two-shift system, the plant is able to sort 120,000 tonnes of waste paper every year to supply the paper industry with high grade products. The waste paper comes from commercial businesses, retailers, industrial firms and private households. The volume of paper processed is more or less equivalent to the amount of paper that could be produced by using all the trees in the Grunewald forest near Berlin. All in all, these paper recycling operations reduce carbon emissions by over 75,000 tonnes. During a visit to the site, Borough Mayor Dr Franziska Giffey underlined just how important the operations were: “We are proud to have REMONDIS and its modern, innovative and sustainable business in our district, which not only has a positive impact on Neukölln but on the whole of Berlin. 60% of the paper generated in Berlin is sorted here at the Neukölln site and then returned to production cycles. The facility has not only generated new jobs, it is also helping to protect the environment.”
REMONDIS’ business in Berlin has developed an innovative procedure for recycling large volumes of packaging material made from polystyrene; this light material is pressed into blocks and cut up so that it can be used to insulate buildings
Altogether, REMONDIS’ Berlin-Neukölln industrial estate provides jobs for around 550 people. Lutz Wedegärtner, managing director and site manager, is proud of the way the business has developed to date and is very optimistic about its future. “What we have managed to achieve on the site of this old cable factory since 1994 is not simply proof that structural change can be brought about by investing in the recycling sector. There are far more people working in this forward-looking environmental services sector than there ever were in the cable factory. Recycling waste, conserving resources, protecting the environment and curbing global warming are all subjects that are vital for the future and we have set up a centre of excellence right in the heart of Berlin. REMONDIS is working in and for the Berlin region to help it create a more sustainable future.”
Lutz Wedegärtner, branch manager of the second-largest REMONDIS location in Germany, is well aware of just how important his site is for creating a sustainable economy in Berlin: “We have set up a centre of excellence for providing a sustainable supply of raw materials and we wish to continue expanding this business far into the future.”
The following companies can be found in the Lahnstraße in Berlin-Neukölln