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The region around Hanover has more than 600,000 households and 19 individual local authority districts and covers an area as large as the Saarland. Last year, REMONDIS took part in a tender process to collect recycling bags from the regions around Hanover and was awarded the contract in July 2015. It actually took over the work from the municipal waste management company, Abfallwirtschaft Region Hannover (aha), at the beginning of this year. Which meant the company had just five months to set up the logistics and infrastructure needed, to plan the collection routes, to order the vehicles and to put together a team of 60 people – from dispatchers, to drivers, to workers for loading the vehicles. In the end, they had just four weeks to do their practice runs before their work began in earnest.
The Hanover region has more than 600,000 households and 19 local authority districts and covers an area as large as the Saarland
The company’s regular fleet has 23 collection vehicles; at peak periods, however, up to 29 vehicles were on the road
The company had just five months to put together a team of 60 people, to order the vehicles and to plan the collection routes
REMONDIS stepped up to the mark – without knowing where the public recycling banks and private storage places were and without knowing what individual agreements had been reached between the previous collection company and the local residents as to when and where individual bags were to be left. It was inevitable that a few things were going to go wrong. The drivers and those loading the vehicles had to get to know their areas from scratch, travelling down their routes and taking note of as many details as possible about the private storage places and public recycling banks. These details were then incorporated into their routes so that they could further optimise their system whilst carrying out their everyday work and adapt it to their daily routines.
As was expected, things did not run as smoothly as the local residents and REMONDIS had hoped at the beginning. Especially as a number of other factors helped to aggravate the situation even further: aha, for example, had last collected the sales packaging from some of the districts in the middle of December because of the Christmas holidays. The amount of recycling bags that needed to be collected from these local residents had been building up so that the volumes of waste were much bigger than had been expected during the first few weeks. And then winter arrived, four days into the new contract. REMONDIS was held up by snow and ice. There was chaos on the roads for days on end.
What’s more, several of REMONDIS’ teams found a large number of containers with locks on them in front of a number of buildings, for which the keys had not yet been handed over. And then there was the problem of the yellow recycling bags being thrown into the orange wheelie bins. It was obviously normal for local residents to put their waste packaging into the orange recycling bins which aha had introduced back in 2012. Which meant that REMONDIS was faced with the problem that it had no legal right to empty the bins or indeed even to touch them.
Problem upon problem and in a region where, over the last 15 years, waste has become a highly emotional issue as local politicians have repeatedly brought up and discussed the subject of waste management rather than talk about the way local authorities manage their work. Other REMONDIS businesses gave a lending hand as the employees at the new business in Langenhagen (from where the teams start their daily collection trips) searched for ways to solve these problems. Branches from across the whole of north Germany sent members of their staff to help the team through this critical initial phase as well as to help them optimise their routes. They sent both vehicles and experienced teams.
These “temporary” workers came from Gifhorn, Wildeshausen, Bremerhaven and Hildesheim to assist their new colleagues and help them through the Herculean task of ensuring that the recycling bags were collected from the region each and every day. Everything was running smoothly by the middle of February.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to all our colleagues for their extraordinary efforts and dedication.
At peak periods up to 29 vehicles were on the road. The company’s regular fleet currently comprises 23 collection vehicles. The company’s policy of being open and transparent, its intensive talks with local politicians and its consistent complaints system (with the company calling back local residents who had been put on hold for too long during the first few weeks) all helped to halt the growing resentment and calm the situation down.
All problems were solved within just seven weeks ensuring that a reliable service is now in place to collect the recycling bags in one of Germany’s largest collection regions – a huge logistical feat that very few other recycling companies other than REMONDIS would have been able to master. Our heartfelt thanks go out to all our colleagues for their extraordinary efforts and dedication.
The employees were determined to get to grips with the challenging situation