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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 need for action

  • Industrial businesses in India have a lot of catching-up to do in the area of water management. Investments are needed urgently, whether they be in equipment, maintenance or staff training measures. Groundwater and surface water are becoming scarce in India. Five to ten percent of the country’s demand for fresh water comes from industrial businesses alone – and this figure is rising all the time. At the same time, factories, power stations and refineries are among the biggest producers of wastewater. It is estimated that more than six billion litres of untreated wastewater flows into the country’s rivers and lakes every year. The newly elected government is now looking to put a stop to all this with its latest version of the “Clean Ganga Mission”.

India wishes to use German know-how

  • This mission aims to clean up and improve the quality of the water in the 2,500-kilometre-long River Ganges. Moreover, it will make it illegal for industrial businesses, cities and villages to discharge untreated wastewater and industrial effluent straight into this sacred river. The Indian government made it clear that they also wanted Germany to be involved in this ambitious plan, as the country has extensive experience of such projects and also has an excellent reputation when it comes to project management.

Huge potential for the future

The technology needed for processing fresh water and treating wastewater can, for the most part, already be found in India. Numerous domestic and foreign companies, including REMONDIS Aqua, operate in this market selling technology or building new facilities. The potential of this market is huge; the size of the country, however, creates its own challenges making it difficult for companies to commit. State-of-the-art technology is used by only a small number of industrial businesses – primarily multinational firms or large local companies. The laws regulating the treatment of wastewater are becoming increasingly more stringent and are considered to be strict enough in many areas; however, control measures, for example in the area of wastewater treatment, are insufficient. The fundamental problem is the inability of the Indian authorities to enforce the regulations. Public sector businesses, in particular, are not inspected as they should be and private firms can also sometimes find ways in this less than transparent system to avoid having to stick to the rules.

Providing support in the area of water management

Small businesses, which make up around 40 percent of the total volume of industrial wastewater, cooperate in the area of water management. The Government has been supporting so-called common effluent treatment plants for over twenty years now. There are currently around 250 such treatment plants throughout the country. “Such plants often fail, however, because they are badly maintained or because the machines are not operated correctly,” said Mr Anshuman, Associate Director of the Water Resources Division at the Energy and Resources Institute. This presents opportunities for service providers who are able to give advice in this area or indeed take over full management of such plants. REMONDIS Aqua is already doing this now.

Investments in equipment and staff training measures are needed urgently.

Looking ahead, India will have to invest in training measures to ensure it has specialists in this field. As yet, there are no specialist courses on offer that are combined with practical training. Representatives from the German water sector, the German Chamber of Commerce’s Bildungs-GmbH and Germany’s International Chamber of Commerce responsible for India are currently in the process of developing training courses covering industrial wastewater treatment. BIBS, a project financed by the 

Federal Ministry of Education and Research aiming to export vocational training measures in urban water management to India, is also working on a general training programme covering all aspects of water management.

An interview with Thomas Block, managing director of Remondis Aqua (India) Pvt. Ltd.

  • REMONDIS Aqua (India) Pvt. Ltd. provides water management services for both public sector and industrial customers. Between 2012 and 2014, the company, a subsidiary of the REMONDIS Group, carried out a number of projects to improve water and energy efficiency in the Indian sugar industry. REMONDIS was supported in its efforts by the DEG Deutschen Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft as part of its develoPPP.de programme.

    Thomas Block, Managing Director of Remondis Aqua (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Interview

You took a close look at twelve companies – including ten cooperatives – operating in the sugar industry in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Was there a great need for change?

  • Thomas Block: The water systems at 80 percent of the sugar cooperatives needed huge improvements done to them. The existing facilities had to be either removed or new machinery had to be invested in. One of the main problems was the personnel’s lack of know-how. The condition of the equipment at the private sector firms was considerably better, as was the technical knowledge of the staff.

How did the people react to your programme?

  • Thomas Block: The firms were really open right from the start. The managers and, in particular, the engineers were very interested in learning more about the latest technology used by a foreign company.

What suggestions did you make to improve their levels of resource efficiency?

  • Thomas Block: The primary goal of the measures we put forward was to reduce water consumption. In addition, we drew up a number of suggestions to help them save energy – from operating their pumps more efficiently, to generating energy from organic waste.

Just how willing were the cooperatives to actually
implement the measures?

  • Thomas Block: Our training measures – both theory and on-the-job – were particularly popular. More often than not, though, the technical measures were unable to be implemented due to a lack of funds. The decision-making structures and processes at the cooperatives proved to be a hindrance as was the general lack of awareness regarding environmental issues. 

You are already involved in water management processes at other Indian companies. Where do you believe the biggest potential to be in India?

  • Thomas Block: It is still very difficult for foreign companies to participate in public sector projects even though the authorities could really benefit from their knowledge of operating plants and facilities. In some cases, there is a lack of transparency in public tender processes and the public sector is also very slow to pay their bills. There are already, however, some very good opportunities at large private sector firms. Basically speaking, all industrial businesses will have to invest heavily in their water management systems in the near future. We are expecting demand to grow rapidly in a number of the more dynamic consumer good sectors – such as the food processing or pharmaceutical industries.

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