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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.
    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann 

The trend is away from combustion engines

REMONDIS’ branch in Erftstadt near Cologne has entered a new age of pre-treatment logistics with its acquisition of a new electrical excavator (model: MHL 820). Up to now, professional businesses have been reluctant to use electrically run vehicles for moving medium to heavy loads. The reservations towards such technology appeared to be too great as it requires an external source of energy and – unlike engines run on fossil fuels – is dependent on a lead. The tide, however, is turning thanks to clever technology and a number of advantages. Electrical excavators are now a genuine alternative. REMONDIS has picked up on this trend and taken the first step towards sustainably saving energy.

Good-bye to engine noise and diesel fumes

  • The first thing a person notices when they enter the large hall at REMONDIS’ facility in Erkrath is that it is relatively quiet. Indeed, they might even think that a shift is ending and a new one just starting or that some of the machines have been turned off. Then, though, they see the arm of the new excavator removing specific areas of material from the input pile and feeding it into the shredder to create, as far as possible, a homogenous mixture. The driver sitting in his cab is handling the excavator in the same efficient way he would his old diesel-run excavator only there are no loud engine sounds nor is there a smell of diesel in the air. Where would such a smell come from? The energy for the excavator comes from an electrical socket. There are no emissions, no soot, no fine particulates. For a business working with waste, the air is by comparison clean.

    One of the many advantages of the electrical excavator: it can work without a break. The weekly breaks which the diesel-run excavators have to take to fill up with fuel and which cost two hours of production time are a thing of the past

Low energy consumption – little maintenance work

The MHL 820 not only means there are no emissions and that it is relatively quiet in the enclosed hall, it also cuts energy consumption by up to 25%. Whilst the first generation of electrical excavators also had these advantages, they had the disadvantage of not being mobile. The equipment was unable to propel itself forward as it lacked its own source of power such as that provided by a conventional engine. In contrast, the new electrical excavator has absolutely no problem moving its own weight (21 tonnes) from one place to another. The reason for this: a so-called ‘Power Pack’ has been installed in the vehicle, a kind of selectable range extender in the form of a small diesel unit which feeds its energy directly into the batteries and then transfers it to the wheels. Once the excavator has reached the place it needs to be in, everything is run electrically again. And this is precisely what the next big advantage is of the electrical excavator. Reinhard Hohenstein, managing director of REMONDIS Rhineland, describes it thus: ”The new excavator hardly ever has to be moved as it doesn’t need to be filled up. The excavator run on diesel had to stop its work three times a week and be driven to the filling station. In all, almost 2 hours of production had to be halted – valuable time which is now saved thanks to the electrical excavator. It just keeps on going.”

A great performance every day

This emission-free work with the electrical excavator helps to improve the atmosphere and is healthier for the employees and so increases work safety. Less time is needed to maintain and service the vehicle. Besides checking the hydraulic oil, the filter and, from time to time, the air conditioning system in the driver’s cab, there is very little left to service. So what does it feel like to handle such a modern excavator? Johannes Ungermann, one of the drivers at REMONDIS in Erftstadt, put it in a nutshell: ”The excavator is not only quieter, it runs far more smoothly and vibrates less. It is more stable, too, as the power transmission is simply better as a result of the torque. Sitting in the cab, you can feel how the machine is being permanently and steadily provided with energy rather than having to step on the accelerator all the time.” Thanks to this acquisition, REMONDIS in Erftstadt is leading the way as it heads towards creating a logistics system that is not only quiet but free of emissions, too.

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