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  • Dear Readers!

    Once again the world’s largest trade fair for the water, sewage, waste and raw materials sectors has opened its gates in Munich. As in previous years, hundreds of thousands of specialists from all around the globe are expected to attend the exhibition centre in the capital city of Bavaria this year. And once again, focus will be put on modern environmental technologies which aim to increase global recycling rates and make our planet more sustainable – and rightly so. We at REMONDIS love recycling and are doing everything that is economically viable and technologically possible to promote sustainability. However, no matter what recycling efforts are made, there is still that undeniable truth which people often prefer to ignore: at the end, there are always some materials left over. Each time residual and hazardous waste is thermally treated, it generates slag; each time a road is dug up or a building demolished, it produces mineral waste and construction waste. And after all possible substances have been sent for materials or thermal recycling, the question remains ‘what to do with the residue that cannot be recycled?’ The subject of sending waste to landfill appeared to have been taken care of in Germany when the ‘TaSi’ (Technical Directive on the Recycling, Treatment and Disposal of Municipal Waste) came into force in 2005. We are, therefore, now rubbing our eyes in disbelief as it becomes clear that a lack of landfill space – a problem believed to be something of the distant past – is, slowly but surely, threatening to catch up with us again. The City of Kaiserslautern has understood what is happening and has entered into a public private partnership with REMONDIS’ subsidiary, REMEX, to build a new landfill that will be able to accept 400,000 tonnes of mineral waste each year. This, too, is something that must be done for the future of the country.

    Some years ago, Prof. Klaus Töpfer, former Federal Minister of the Environment, introduced the so-called ‘dual system’ to take the pressure off household waste landfills and to push forward the country’s recycling activities. The recycling bin (known as the yellow bin in Germany because of its yellow lid) enabled recyclable and residual waste to be collected separately from households and proved to be a success for many years. Indeed, this concept was exported to many other countries. This system is now in danger of collapsing as a result of its own loopholes. Projected volumes of correctly licensed sales packaging will fall this year to just 812,000 tonnes, a 26 percent drop compared to last year, whilst the amount of waste sales packaging actually collected will remain the same at around 2.2 million tonnes. The honest system operators are having to bear this financial ‘gap’ and no-one is able to say how long it can survive. In this issue of REMONDIS aktuell, we look more closely at the question of whether the recycling bin has a future or whether it has finally reached the end of the line.

    No matter what the future brings, waste and raw materials will still have to be transported from A to B. Looking at the growing shortage of qualified truck drivers in Germany, however, this may soon be more easily said than done. Fewer and fewer young people are choosing to join this profession which is so important for road logistics. REMONDIS has taken action to counteract this trend and is offering more apprenticeship jobs in this area. The job of a truck driver is so much better than its image. The apprenticeship course offers much more than simply learning to drive a truck – it also teaches all about vehicle technology, infrastructure, logistics and mobility.

    As always, I hope you enjoy reading this edition of REMONDIS aktuell.

    Ludger Rethmann 

Compost is an important source of nutrients

Kompostwerk Landkreis Konstanz GmbH is the longest-running PPP within the REMONDIS Group. One of the first ever recycling facilities to be run on an industrial scale in Germany was planned and built here back in 1980.

If soil is to be used over a long period of time then it is essential that good fertility levels are maintained. Humus is vital here as it activates soil life. This is where compost comes into play. This natural rotted product is ideal as it contains high amounts of organic substances making it very similar to humus. Compost, therefore, supplies the soil with nutrients and can be used instead of classic fertiliser products containing mineral fertiliser – thus helping to conserve our valuable natural resources. Moreover, compost retains water in the soil and acts as a buffer and filter.

Over 30 years' experience

  • Right from the start, REMONDIS has known just how important compost is for agricultural businesses and so has always placed special emphasis on the aspect of sustainability when producing compost on an industrial scale. The composting plant in Singen near Constance is a good example of this. Located near Lake Constance, the plant was originally commissioned at the beginning of the 80s to compost residual waste and sewage sludge. Since 1993, however, it has focused exclusively on recycling biowaste. For over 30 years now, the facility has been doing its duty and has recycled way over 2 million tonnes of waste during this period. With repair and maintenance costs rising and energy consumption not being as efficient as is possible nowadays, the decision was made to replace a section of the plant. Over the last few months, therefore, the technology at the facility has been revised and overhauled. As part of this project, one of the plant’s processing lines was removed freeing up an area of over 10,000 for new investments.

  • A perfectly controlled composting process

    Thanks to the modern tunnel composting facility, it is now possible to process the biowaste in a more gentle way. The facility creates much better composting conditions, has lower emission levels and consumes less energy. This modernised composting process, therefore, makes a greater contribution towards preventing climate change. Once the organic waste has been pre-treated, i.e. it has been cut up and any unwanted substances such as metals and plastic have been removed, it is placed in the tunnels. A large number of air jets have been installed in the floors of the tunnels so that the air needed for this process can be added as and when it is required and distributed evenly through the material. This technique allows the best possible levels of oxygen to be reached. The control system regulates the aeration and watering of the material to achieve ideal composting conditions. After approx. ten days, the material is transferred by wheel loader to another section of the plant where it is refined. Here it undergoes a number of fine screening processes to produce high quality compost.

    The owners of the plant, the District of Constance and REMONDIS, believe that they have succeeded in creating a basis for producing sustainable and resource-friendly compost with this initial extension of its tunnel composting activities. REMONDIS has once again set an example with this new composting tunnel, showing how to achieve greater sustainability whilst recycling waste and producing high quality raw materials. 

    • Tunnel composting facilities save both time and space

    • The accelerated and optimised composting process is very similar to that found in nature and so is in keeping with the fundamental principle of a fully closed natural cycle showing how future recycling processes could be for other organic and non-organic materials. Thanks to this more gentle method of producing compost, REMONDIS is pushing forward its efforts to improve the quality of our soil and so protect the environment and prevent climate change.

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