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  • Dear Readers!

    Germany has set itself some ambitious goals in its move to support global efforts to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting gases – first and foremost CO2. On signing the Kyoto Protocol, the governments agreed to reduce emissions so that global temperature increases are limited to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. According to the Federal government, Germany’s contribution is to have cut its emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 compared to carbon emission levels in 1990. This goal should primarily be reached by extending the country’s network of renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency.

    Germany has set itself some ambitious goals in its move to support global efforts to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting gases – first and foremost CO2. On signing the Kyoto Protocol, the governments agreed to reduce emissions so that global temperature increases are limited to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. According to the Federal government, Germany’s contribution is to have cut its emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 and by 80 to 95 percent by 2050 compared to carbon emission levels in 1990. This goal should primarily be reached by extending the country’s network of renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency.

    The country’s simultaneous exit from nuclear power, however, has been like starting an experiment with an uncertain outcome. It has certainly got the network technicians reacting nervously to the slightest glitch in the system – as could be seen recently during the partial solar eclipse in Germany. In extreme cases, there can be fluctuations of up to fourteen gigawatts an hour – the result of the rapid growth of renewable energy sources – and these must be compensated for with electricity generated from fossil fuels. This is making it extremely difficult for the Federal government to reach its climate goals and so it is essential that moves are made to find alternative ways of cutting emissions. This is where the recycling sector can help. Aside from the fact that our sector is the only industry to have succeeded in completely turning itself around – from being an emitter of greenhouse gases as a result of sending organic material to landfill, to cutting carbon emissions through recycling and thermal treatment – there are still a number of other ways it can help prevent climate change. If the government makes the necessary adjustments now, i.e. with its new recyclables law, and ensures that the very most is made of the material and thermal potential of the recyclables in our waste, then our sector alone can achieve 6% of the 2020 climate goals. This has been proven by studies carried out by the Fraunhofer UMSICHT Institute. 

    Being one of the largest recycling, water and service companies, REMONDIS is already making an important contribution towards preventing climate change and conserving our planet’s natural resources. We would be very happy to be allowed to do even more. Introducing organic waste bins across the country is an important step towards achieving a more sustainable future. More and more often the public and private sectors are approaching each other to find ways of protecting the environment together to ensure future generations also have a world worth living in. Whilst it is certainly too early to say there has been a complete change of heart, one fact remains true: the public and private sectors are stronger when they work together – especially when they are looking to achieve ambitious goals!

    The term ‘sustainability’ may have been overused in recent years but it still depicts best the challenges that all industrial and commercial businesses must face – both now and in the future. Many of our customers have added our sustainability certificate to their business models. The Steigenberger hotel group, for example, has not only achieved the best recycling rates in their industry thanks to REMONDIS, their “Green Meeting“ concept, verified by our sustainability certificate, has given this successful hotel business a truly unique selling point. We are happy to help wherever we can! 

    Yours

    Thomas Conzendorf

Too good to throw away

Organic waste is not waste – it is a resource. No matter whether it is used to produce compost or to generate energy: residual organic materials from households and gardens can always be put to sustainable use. It is, therefore, far too valuable for the residual waste bin. The current Federal Recycling Law stipulates that, as from the beginning of 2015, organic waste should be collected separately from other waste streams. This decision was made to drive recycling activities in this area – but very little has changed around the country so far.

Organic waste bins not yet all around the country

Despite the fact that schemes had to be in place to collect organic waste separately from other material streams at the beginning of the year, there are still regions in Germany that do not have organic waste bins. The Federal Environmental Agency believes that between 57 and 69 of the corporations responsible for waste management were unable to provide a separate collection service for organic waste on 01 January 2015.

Organic material does not belong in the residual waste bin: it is a valuable and sustainable resource.

There is no specific deadline as to when the local authorities must have provided their local residents with appropriate wheelie bins to ensure the organic waste in their regions is collected separately. Experience has shown, however, that this is by far the most effective way of making the most of the ecological potential of organic waste. At the end of the day, there will always be people who are not prepared to take their organic waste to a central collection point or do not have the logistical means to do so. Kerbside collection schemes, therefore, increase the volumes of material actually collected. Local residents are also more motivated to join in as such systems are so convenient. 

A source material for compost and energy

For many years now, REMONDIS has been providing local authorities and their residents with convenient solutions that have led to excellent recycling results. The company’s portfolio of services ranges from supplying various sizes of organic waste bin, to providing a reliable collection service, all the way through to managing the recycling processes. These organic materials are used to produce high nutrient, quality assured composts, substrates and mulch – or as a source material for generating carbon-neutral energy.

Essen is showing how it’s done

    • Entsorgungsbetriebe Essen GmbH (EBE), a waste management business operating in the German city of Essen, was one of the first companies to collect organic waste from households. This public private partnership between the City of Essen (51 %) and REMONDIS (49 %) established a separate kerbside collection scheme for organic waste back in 1996 – almost exactly 20 years ago. Initially introduced as a pilot scheme in a number of city districts, it was then implemented throughout Essen in 2002. The organic waste bin has become a normal part of life with around 30,000 being used around the city and emptied via a fortnightly collection service.

      A colourful trio: EBE supplies a range of grey, blue and brown bins

    Property owners in Essen are free to choose whether they wish to use these bins for their residential and commercial buildings and can order them from EBE. A number of differ­ent sized bins are available – from 80l bins to 1.1m3 containers – and the owners are charged a small fee for using them. The users benefit financially, however, despite this charge as people using organic waste bins generally reduce the volumes they throw into their residual waste bins, which are more expensive.

Recycling centres a useful addition

  • From tree and grass cuttings, to potato skins and coffee grounds, to sawdust and wood shavings: EBE provides infor­mation on the finer points of separating organic waste. It has not, however, launched extensive information campaigns on separating organic waste – and why should it? Segregating organic waste from other material streams is second nature to the people living in Essen.

    Besides supplying organic waste bins, the city also operates six household recycling centres which accept garden waste – a free service if the amount of material the people wish to hand in is less than one cubic metre. A great opportunity for hobby gardeners: they can use this additional service to get rid of their garden waste when their organic waste bin is full and ensure these valuable organic materials do not end up in the residual waste bin.

    • Organic waste bins have been provided across the City of Essen despite its largely metropolitan structure

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