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Whether it be kitchen waste, grass cuttings and old wood or organic substances from the wastewater generated by the food industry: biomass has a huge potential to help us and our environment. Systematically recycling these materials provides at least a partial solution to two major challenges faced by society – feeding our world’s growing population and supplying them with environmentally friendly electricity and heat.
Whilst the number of people needing to be fed around the world is growing all the time, the conditions for supplying them with food are slowly deteriorating. More people mean more housing and more housing means fewer fields for growing crops. What’s more, climate change is also likely to reduce the amount of good agricultural land available to us. The farmers’ response has been to try and achieve higher yields on smaller areas – also by maintaining and improving the quality of their soil.
REMONDIS transforms biomass into top quality products with a high nutrient content including composts, fertilisers, substrates and mulch. They improve the quality and the structure of the soil and regulate water flow. Furthermore, the company uses biomass to generate climate-neutral energy. The biomethane produced in its biogas plants is either fed into the natural gas network or used to produce electricity and heat. What’s more, it could be used as a fuel for collection vehicles that empty, for example, organic waste bins. Wood-based biofuels are turned into energy and heat in biomass-fired power plants. Using such materials to generate energy reduces our consumption of our planet’s finite fossil fuels and cuts carbon emissions – helping to curb climate change.
The whole question of the sustainable benefits of recycling biomass is uncontroversial. Processes for recycling organic materials are well established and provide a reliable supply of marketable products. Having said that, however, the potential of this material is not being fully exploited in Germany. Just one example – household organic waste: the German Circular Economy Law [KrWG] stipulates that – as from the beginning of 2015 – this waste stream must be collected separately. And yet many households around Germany still do not have an organic waste bin. Huge volumes of biomass continue to be thrown into the residual waste bin.
REMONDIS operates its own biomass recycling plants or helps others to run such facilities at 46 different locations across Germany. The company can also be found abroad – operating five plants in the Netherlands, four in Poland and three in Australia. It produces 800,000 tonnes alone of high quality compost products (sold under its HUMERRA® brand) every year.