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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

Urgent steps needed

Germany has been relying on two major developments to help it achieve its 2020 climate goals: on its so-called energy transition (moving from fossil fuels to renewables) and on the country’s gradual changeover to electromobility. A hope that has – as yet – not been answered. Germany’s rapid nuclear exit and its base load problems have meant that the country’s network of renewable energy sources has been unable to keep pace with the demand for power. Consequently, the amount of electricity generated by power stations run on hard coal or brown coal has increased leading to higher carbon emissions. The 2020 goals can only be achieved, therefore, if more attention is paid to the one and only sector that has so far succeeded in completely transforming itself: having previously been an emitter of greenhouse gases, the recycling sector now reduces carbon emissions – and there are a number of other ways it can help prevent climate change.

Alarming model calculations

Despite everyone’s efforts, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has now reached 400 parts per million (ppm). The Stockholm Resilience Centre, a research institute belonging to the University of Stockholm, has been looking into our planet’s ability to adapt to change in order to establish what conditions need to be met so that it remains “safe” for humanity. According to the centre’s latest model calculations, the safe limit is 350ppm – if the increase in global warming is to remain below 1.5 °C. We have, therefore, already crossed this boundary and entered into the danger zone – and, the results of the study reveal, the high risk zone begins when concentration levels exceed 450ppm. Urgent action is needed to find additional ways to prevent climate change as well as to optimise those we already have in place.

  • “REMONDIS already recycles 30 million tonnes of raw materials, helping to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the consumption of land and natural resources. We are prepared to do even more.“

    Thomas Conzendorf, REMONDIS Board Member

Promoting recycling & preventing climate change

REMONDIS has joined various business and environmental experts and institutes to establish a new association, the “Klimaschutz durch Kreislaufwirtschaft“ (recycling to prevent climate change). As part of the KlimaExpo.NRW initiative, it aims to make decision-makers more aware of the fact that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by intensifying and optimising recycling activities. The association has drawn up a list of ten hypotheses to show how greater efforts could be made to prevent climate change.

What our politicians need to do

  • With the long awaited recyclables law just around the corner, the Federal government now has the opportunity to set the course for the future and ensure that the recycling sector’s potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a further 6 % of the 2020  climate goals is fully exploited. Besides being “world champions” in export and recycling, Germany could also be the country leading the effort to prevent climate change by implementing pertinent measures – such as setting ambitious collection and recycling rates. REMONDIS is already making a great contribution towards this goal with its 800+ plants and businesses in more than 30 countries around the world.

  • A recent report on how the recycling sector helps prevent climate change (german only)
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