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The new organic waste recycling plant owned by Schweriner Abfallentsorgungs- und Straßenreinigungsgesellschaft mbH (SAS) was officially opened at the beginning of the year. This facility uses organic waste to generate climate-neutral energy which SAS then feeds into the national grid – a valuable contribution towards helping Schwerin (the capital city of the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern) achieve its goal of becoming a carbon-neutral city.
SAS provides those living and working in and around Schwerin with a wide range of services. On 01 January 2015, it took over the additional task of emptying the organic waste bins in the city – the same day it officially opened its new organic waste recycling facility. The two events fit together perfectly as the organic waste is a valuable resource for the recycling plant.
Around 18,000 tonnes of organic waste can be processed at the organic waste recycling facility in Schwerin every year.
Once delivered to the new facility, the organic waste is first taken to the 8,000m2 hall where it is officially accepted and made ready for the anaerobic digester. Conveyor belts then transport the material to the digester where microorganisms break down the materials – an entirely natural process that produces methane and carbon dioxide, the two main components of biogas. At the end of this process, SAS transforms this biogas into electricity and heat in its combined heat and power plant.
The organic waste recycling facility is able to generate up to 2.6 million kilowatt hours of climate-friendly electricity every year – enough to cover the requirements of around 1,000 households over a twelve-month period. The majority of the electricity generated is fed straight into the national grid. Just 0.7 million kilowatt hours are kept back to cover the facility’s own needs. The plant’s operations are very important for the city’s efforts to prevent climate change. “Our goal is to become a climate friendly city and to have become fully carbon neutral by 2050. This state-of-the-art organic waste recycling facility is an important step down this path,” commented the Mayor of Schwerin, Angelika Gramkow.
The facility, built and now being run by SAS, was completed within less than a year. Construction work began on 20 January 2014 and the facility’s various components underwent their first tests in October. Following a successful dry run (i.e. without material), operations started with the organic waste soon after. Indeed the whole project has proven to be a huge success: SAS generated its first electricity in November which it fed straight into the grid. “The first kilowatt hour of electricity was a really important milestone for us,” explained Matthias Hartung, managing director of SAS. “We see SAS as being a traditional as well as an innovative company and we want it to be able to offer Schwerin’s commercial and industrial businesses and its local residents the best possible solutions.”
SAS was founded almost 60 years ago. REMONDIS acquired a 49 percent share in the company in 2007; the remaining shares are owned by the city council. The collaboration between these two strong shareholders has helped to drive forward SAS’ business with the joint venture now employing around 80 employees, one third more than when REMONDIS purchased its share.
SAS has a number of strengths including its innovative technologies and its many and varied activities to motivate local residents to join in its collection schemes. The organic waste bins handed out at the beginning of the year, for example, have been equipped with a chip and bin identification number. This helps the company to locate the organic waste bins as well as to improve the routes their vehicles take. SAS has created a special mascot to make people more aware of the subject of organic waste. This cute figure was designed by 12-year-old Lilly Kutta and has been christened ‘Heini’. SAS managing director, Matthias Dankert, explained: “Our aim is to teach school children about the subject of organic waste. Our mascot will help to entertain the children as they absorb the information – a really fun way to point out the advantages of separating organic waste.”
This cute mascot, christened Heini, was designed by 12-year-old Lilly Kutta