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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 

Top priority given to safety

Thermally treating waste which cannot be used for materials recycling is per se a good thing. The property of this waste that makes it suitable for this form of treatment, i.e. the fact it burns well, can cause problems elsewhere however. Under no circumstances should a fire be allowed to break out when waste is being pretreated, sorted and packed. Not only would such an event mean the recyclable materials would be lost for ever, the plant machinery would be damaged or, in the worst case scenario, be destroyed. It goes without saying that top priority is always given to keeping both employees and local residents safe. REMONDIS has, therefore, been planning ahead and has invested heavily in fire prevention measures.

Preventing fires before they break out

  • Wherever work processes involve inflammable materials, it is always advisable to have extra special targeted preventative measures in place which can detect a fire in its very early stages and put it out. REMONDIS has recently invested money and technology at a number of its facilities to ensure that a fire is put out within seconds of it starting so that it is unable to develop and cause greater damage.

Investing in state-of-the-art technology

At Entsorgungsgesellschaft Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Bargeshagen near Rostock, a company in which REMONDIS owns a share, a total of 16 interconnected infrared and UV sensors have been installed that can detect an unusual increase in temperature in the input material long before a person could possibly pick up the danger. In such a case, the sensors set off the fire extinguishing system within just a few seconds so that it is impossible for a fire to break out. Other investments include a new mobile poly fire-fighting system using so-called CAF (compressed air foam). CAF employs a process whereby the extinguishing agent is mixed with water under great pressure to create a foam making it easier to zero in on a particular area and, if required, from a distance. Furthermore, 100,000 EUR alone were invested in a new air cleaning system run using state-of-the-art technology with a combination of bio and activated carbon filters which clean the exhaust air in the plant in the best possible way and prevent any pollutants from being released.

Reaction time: just a few seconds

Similar technical measures have also been installed at other locations. These new systems can sound the alarm within just a few seconds. Within moments the water to put out the fire (2,000 litre/minute at 10 bar) can be accessed so that damage to people, machinery or the environment can be prevented. Put simply, REMONDIS has placed safety at the very top of its list of priorities.

  • A Fire is detectet within seconds so that it can be put out just as quickly.

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