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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

Hazardous waste in safe hands

Special levels of expertise are needed to manage hazardous waste. The staff most qualified to handle such substances at REMONDIS can be found at the Bramsche Industrial Recycling Centre. Hazardous waste and recycling are most certainly not a contradiction in terms here. The centre’s mission, as across the whole of the company, is to do everything possible to protect the environment and curb climate change – something that is particularly well illustrated by the two products, RESPRAY and RENOTHERM.

  • Recycling aerosol cans

    • RESPRAY is a full-service system that ensures old aerosol cans – a product that is officially listed as hazardous waste across the whole of Europe – are collected, transported and recycled safely. Operating its business in line with its motto “turning old cans into something new”, the recycling centre in Bramsche recovers all reusable materials from the aerosol cans. The facility, which was built specifically for RESPRAY, sorts the aerosols, removes any pollutants and then compacts the cans in an inert environment.

      This method enables three different material streams to be separated and recovered:

      • The propellants are turned into liquid and used as an alternative source of energy
      • The liquids are thermally treated to generate energy 
      • Aluminium and tinplate are recycled so they can be reused

      REMONDIS’ RESPRAY process was among the final four nominees for the 2017 GreenTec Award, Europe’s most prestigious environmental prize

       

Producing RDF

    • Coal, gas and oil are, of course, fossil fuels. As supplies of these raw materials are getting increasingly scarce, REMONDIS’ Bramsche centre produces high quality RDF (refuse-derived fuel) from non-recyclable waste which it then sells under its RENOTHERM® brand. Not every type of waste can or is allowed to be recycled for reuse.

    The individual properties of RENOTHERM® are precisely defined – this applies both to calorific value as well as specific characteristics, such as grain size and chemical properties.

    By taking these materials and transforming them into RDF, REMONDIS Industrie Service is helping to sustainably protect our planet’s supplies of coal, gas and oil. Incinerating non-recyclable materials to generate energy, therefore, protects our environment and helps conserve global reserves of raw materials. Examples of non-recyclable waste include distillation and resin residue as well as old paints.

    Thanks to REMONDIS Industrie Service, the very most is made of hazardous waste – ensuring these material life cycles are extended for as long as possible.

The Bramsche centre: a few facts & figures

  • Over the last 10 years, the Bramsche recycling centre has produced more than 200,000t of the RDF, RENOTHERM®.
  • Ca. 92% of the input material is sent as RENOTHERM® RDF to cement works and industrial power plants for thermal treatment.
  • Ca. 7% of the input material is ferrous metals which  are recovered for reuse (metal recycling).
  • Ca. 1% of the input material is non-recyclable pollutants (landfill or WIP).
  • 30 – 35% of the RENOTHERM® fuel is biogenic content.
  • Looking at the emissions trading scheme, these facts are extremely important for energy-intensive businesses (compared to fossil fuels).

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