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  • Dear Readers!

    There are some things in life that are unavoidable simply because it is impossible to foresee them. Other things though could have been prevented if those involved had been perhaps a little more mindful and taken that all important look ahead. Would the Titanic have hit the iceberg at full speed, if Captain Smith and his crew had seen the ice before it was too late? Very unlikely. They had received ice warnings but the ocean was calm and everyone was fine on board the ship. The majority of the passengers were in good spirits – right up until the collision happened. We humans are in a pretty similar position in the 21st Century. We have received warnings about the impending effects of climate change and we have been told that supplies of natural resources are already running low – and yet we are still sailing at full speed towards a head-on collision. Despite the fact that the UN recently officially confirmed that the world’s population will have reached 10 billion people by 2050. 10 billion who will all want to live as comfortably as we Europeans already do today with our 22-tonne consumption of raw materials per capita per year. China, for example, currently only consumes 11 tonnes per person per year. We continue, for the most part, to turn a blind eye to the fact that our planet simply does not have enough raw materials for such a scenario and – even if there are sufficient supplies of some materials – it would not be particularly smart to continue to mine and consume them in such large quantities if the problems of climate change are to be overcome. 

    Maybe human nature lies at the root of the problem. Our lives run in a straight line – from when they begin, to when they end. Linear thinking is in our genes so to speak. And this is precisely how we have always developed and made our products since we used the very first axe. From the idea at the beginning, to using the product, all the way through to the final moment when the product is broken and can no longer be used. There is no afterwards. If a sustainable economy is to be created, however, it is high time that this line is transformed into a circle.

    Practicable solutions to solving our supply problems have been around for a long while now. All around the world, people have been carrying out research work to find new technologies and better systems to enable raw materials to be recovered so that they can be reused. Recycling must finally do what its name implies, i.e. create loops so that all raw materials can be returned to production cycles. Economic growth and the consumption of raw materials must become separate from one another. A few major steps must be taken before that is possible though. Firstly, an ecodesign directive needs to be introduced across Europe that not only places importance on energy efficiency (as is the case at the moment) but also on raw material efficiency and the recyclability of products. Secondly, far more money needs to be invested in researching, developing and setting up more and better sorting and recycling facilities to ensure the recovered raw materials are of the highest possible quality. And thirdly, politicians need to create incentives to encourage industrial businesses to use more recycled raw materials in their production processes. Digitalisation and e-mobility, in particular, need huge volumes of raw materials. The most environmentally friendly source – one that also allows us to remain independent – is recycled raw materials.

    Our steamship is still more or less intact but it continues to sail towards a head-on collision with Mother Nature. It is not too late to change course, though, if we reach the right conclusions and take some mindful and far-sighted steps towards more and better recycling. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic – quite a few of which can be found in this issue. 

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

The building sector is booming

Population growth, the global upturn and the interna-tional building boom are all pushing up the demand for mineral raw materials. These materials are needed by the construction industry to build housing as well as to build and maintain infrastructure in general. Recycled and substitute aggregate not only helps here to conserve our planet’s natural raw materials. It also plays a major role in reducing land consumption.

Huge rise in demand

  • According to the experts, the demand in Germany for primary stone/earth raw materials could increase to 650 million tonnes by 2035 – an increase of 20% compared to 2013. Demand in the emerging countries around the world, such as Asia, will grow at a much faster rate. It is, therefore, essential that mineral waste is recycled. Such recycling  activities not only ensure we treat our land more responsibly, they also give us access to a reliable supply of vital mineral raw materials. At the same time, land consumption is cut – in two ways, in fact, as mineral recycling reduces the need for mining (and its hugely negative impact on the country-side) as well as the need for landfill space as the material is reused.

REMEX is the REMONDIS Group’s expert

    • REMONDIS’ subsidiary, REMEX, specialises in recycling minerals. It recycles excavated earth and construction waste from road and building work and demolition projects as well as ash and slag from industrial production processes, power stations and waste incineration plants.

    The REMEX Group has over 60 business locations in six countries.

    Thanks to their smart systems, the REMEX facilities are able to produce high quality recycled aggregate as well as quality-assured substitute aggregate. With their strictly defined chemical and physical properties and stringent quality controls, the company’s brand-name products, remexit® and granova®, are suitable for a whole range of applications. What’s more, REMEX recovers large quantities of scrap iron and other valuable metals from the mineral waste it processes so that they, too, can be returned to production cycles.


Minerals recycling – what needs to be done?

  • The following measures would enable more raw materials to be recovered:

    • Making people more aware of the fact that supplies of mineral raw materials are finite
    • Creating new uses for recycled & substitute aggregate
    • Developing groundbreaking methods to further increase recycling rates
    • Putting quality assured recycled aggregate on an equal footing with primary aggregate
    • Ensuring public tenders focus more on recycled aggregate
    • Creating obligatory recycling regulations – national standards rather than individual solutions for each German state
    • Transferring know-how around the world

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