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  • Dear Readers!

    Even after just a few months, 2019 is already panning out to be a year full of uncertainty. We are all having to face a variety of challenges. With many of these linked to climate change and the environment, they are automatically affecting the environmental services sector as well. The impact of climate change could be felt all around the world last year with countries being struck by floods, forest fires and drought – and experts are expecting more of the same this year. Both industrial and political decision-makers and consumers across the globe are well aware that urgent measures need to be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – something that has been further highlighted by the young Swedish environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, who has inspired schoolchildren to take to the streets on Fridays to get adults to finally tackle this problem. This will be a mammoth task as it involves nothing less than halting the loss of biodiversity and ensuring there are sufficient supplies of natural resources for future generations. And this is precisely what REMONDIS does by recovering high quality raw materials from waste. Indeed, there is no other individual measure that is so successful at cutting greenhouse gas emissions and conserving natural resources. And this is why we see it as our task to extend the reach of our services and pass on our know-how to others – especially to other countries – to promote resource-friendly recycling activities.

    Our industry is currently undergoing a technological change that will alter the way many things are done. As the world becomes ever more digital, it is inevitable that this technology will have an impact on our everyday lives as well as on the way we do business. The spread of digitisation, however, is creating its own new set of challenges. The political environment in many regions around the world is also changing which could hamper our cross-border efforts to promote sustainable development. This, of course, also includes the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the growing tensions between the so-called superpowers. We need the support of our politicians so that we can make the world that little bit more sustainable – whether it be the implementation of a Europe-wide landfill ban or the creation of an Ecodesign Directive that takes raw material efficiency into account as well as energy efficiency. All in all, the upcoming European Elections will be an important political milestone for Europe.

    REMONDIS is doing its utmost to turn these challenges into opportunities and to navigate through these stormy seas safely. We are marking out the way for sustainable success by investing in technology and growing our portfolio.

    You can find out more about our plans for the future by taking a look through this latest issue of REMONDIS AKTUELL – and discover how our customers can benefit from our strong and stable services in these volatile times. 

    Yours

    Egbert Tölle

Mandatory recycling rates increased

  • The new Packaging Law, which has been in force since 01 January 2019, sets out a number of recycling targets until 2022 to ensure an ever increasing volume of plastic packaging is recycled. One of the most important targets here is that materials recycling should increase from the current rate of 36% to 58.5% in the first year and to 63% from 2022 onwards. Plans are, once the last recycling rate has been reached in 2022, to review the recycling targets within the following three years and push them up even further if necessary. More money needs to be invested in state-of-the-art sorting technology if such ambitious recycling rates are to be achieved. Once again, REMONDIS is showing how this can be done having opened up a new high performance sorting facility in Erftstadt near Cologne, which was commissioned at the same time the new Packaging Law came into force.

A capacity of 150,000 tonnes a year

All in all, Germany has a relatively high volume of municipal waste – around 40 million tonnes are produced every year – which means that the country’s sorting and recycling plants do not need to worry about whether they have enough material or not. The challenge that these businesses do have to face, however, is how to improve the range and quality of the materials that can be recovered for recycling. And this challenge must be dealt with if these new and ambitious materials recycling rates are to be met. Which was precisely why, during the planning phase, REMONDIS not only put thought into how big the sorting facility in Erftstadt should be but also into how many types of materials could be recovered and separated from each other.

The range of the recovered materials must be improved, if the new recycling rates are to be met.

Handling a throughput of up to 150,000 tonnes a year (120,000 tonnes of which is lightweight packaging from the recycling bins), the new plant is one of the biggest of its kind on the German recycling market. There was also nothing accidental about the choice of the location either. Built on a large site in an industrial area near Erftstadt, the facility has no immediate neighbours who could be disturbed by its operations and is very close to the City of Cologne and the densely populated Rhineland region.

  • The challenge is how to improve the range and quality of the materials that can be recovered for recycling. This is the only way to achieve the ambitious goal of growing materials recycling rates.

State-of-the-art sorting & screening technology

The packaging material is transformed into raw materials in the facility’s three buildings. Each building has its own specific role, either accepting the incoming material, sorting it or storing it. The hall responsible for handling the incoming material is equipped with a gantry crane, which is easily able to deal with the large volumes delivered each day. The recycling bags are automatically opened so that the material can be transported along a conveyor belt that is, all in all, around 1.5 kilometres in length. This enables the material to undergo many different sorting and screening stages helping to ensure that as many different types of plastics can be recovered and separated from each other. Various kinds of equipment are used here including three vibrating screens, a drum screen, a total of 21 near infrared separators, four air classifiers and two ballistic separators. With the quality of the recovered materials being so high, they can be sold on to manufacturers as environmentally and climate friendly recycled raw materials – helping to significantly reduce the demand for so-called primary raw materials, which have a considerably greater impact on the environment. At the end of the day, one tonne of recycled plastic saves 1.2 tonnes of CO2 compared to virgin plastic produced from crude oil.

Even glass is recovered for reuse

The plant in Erftstadt is able to recover and separate a large number of different materials so they can be reused. These include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), PET bottles, PET trays, drinks cartons, tinplate, aluminium, plastic film, paper and cardboard and even glass. The latter is one of the special features of the Erftstadt facility.

Every tonne of recyclable material that is recovered for reuse helps conserve our planet’s resources and protect the environment.

Any residual materials left over after the sorting process are put through a further screening system, which is when the outthrow material glass is recovered. Looking at the results of the test operations, the facility is expecting to recover around 2,000 tonnes of glass a year – a figure that no other materials recovery facility is able to match. Just a very small amount of the input material ends up being sent, for example, to the cement industry as refuse-derived fuel (RDF) for producing electricity and heat. For the most part, this RDF is made up of mixed plastics and sorting residue which has been classified by the facility as being non-recyclable.

A wide range of materials recycled

The different kinds of sorted plastics that have been recycled for reuse are sold on to the plastics processing industry in Germany and other European countries. Any ferrous metals and aluminium are sent straight to steelworks and aluminium processors via REMONDIS’ subsidiary, TSR, and other metal processors. Any paper and drinks cartons are processed at different paper mills. Materials that are to be used to produce energy are transformed into RDF at the company’s own plants and then used in its own power stations or sold on to the cement industry. Thanks to its work, REMONDIS’ sorting plant in Erftstadt should help to close more material life cycles and fulfil the regulations set out in the new Packaging Law.

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