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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

Recycling up close

  • Many people underestimate what can actually be achieved with recycling. What’s more, we often  don’t know the specifics – for example which substances the recycling industry can recover and what can actually be done with them. Taking a look behind the scenes can help them to find out more.

Europe’s largest industrial recycling centre

  • With 14 different plants and facilities spread over more than 230 hectares, the Lippe Plant in the Westphalian town of Lünen has created its very own ‘world of recycling’. Thanks to its links to a wide range of industries and sectors, REMONDIS is able to transform waste from various areas of production into recycled raw materials and products at this site – the largest industrial recycling centre in Europe. Even more unusual types of waste, such as gypsum from flue gas desulphurisation plants at coal-fired power stations or alkalis from catalyst producers, are able to be processed and returned to production cycles. The Lippe Plant has also been honoured by KlimaExpo, an initiative set up by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which has praised the work being carried out at the site – both in its three main areas of recycling and its contribution to combating climate change as it cuts carbon emissions by 488,000t every single year.

  • "REMONDIS is permanently investing in new technology. This is our contribution to the future."

    Ludger Rethmann, executive chairman

A wide range of technologies and solutions

On the one hand, REMONDIS makes the most of industrial waste to create primary products for industrial businesses: waste plastic is processed into pellets, slag into metal. Furthermore, sodium aluminate is recovered so it can be used for treating wastewater or to make binding agents and white minerals. Other facilities recover high-energy fats from high-risk animal by-products and then turn these into carbon-neutral biodiesel. Not only industrial businesses benefit from the wide variety of recycling activities at the Lippe Plant but the agricultural sector as well: organic and green waste is used to produce high quality composts which can be ordered straight from the recycler. Non-recyclable waste is used as an alternative fuel to generate energy. Carbon-neutral electricity is, for example, produced at the Lippe Plant’s own biomass-fired power station, a collaboration with STEAG.

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