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  • Dear Readers!

    Family-run companies generate almost 50% of the German economy’s total turnover and provide over 50% of all jobs in our country. Our ‘Mittelstand’ (i.e. our SMEs) – which, we are constantly being told, is held in envy around the world – is the anchor that gives Europe’s largest national economy the stability it needs, driving growth across the whole of the continent. 83% of all apprenticeship jobs in Germany are created by SMEs. 1,307 of the globally identified 2,700 ‘Hidden Champions’ are German Mittelstand firms. So what have these facts got to do with public private partnerships?

    They are an opportunity for local authorities and their companies to become a part of this exceptional success story. Family-owned businesses focus on values, traditions and reliability across generations. More often than not, they are deeply rooted in their regions and actively involved in their communities. And it is this that enables them to enjoy long-term success. We believe it to be a good decision when a municipal partner chooses to have its essential public services provided by a joint venture with a private-sector partner. Learning from mistakes made and drawing the right conclusions for the future are two further strengths of family-run companies that have been able to enjoy decades of success on their markets thanks to their high levels of expertise and their special ethos.

    The need for greater efficiency by, on the one hand, dividing up tasks and specialising in specific areas and, on the other, keeping costs under control means that once again public private partnerships are being viewed as a future-proof business model.

    For decades now, REMONDIS has been showing every day that better results can be achieved by working together. With 64 PPP companies and a whole range of third-party service provision agreements, we have perfected the public private partnership concept for all essential public services – from waste management, to water management, all the way through to public transport – to the benefit of both parties. Working together with its municipal partners, REMONDIS delivers services to over twelve million people living in Germany. Local authorities and their residents always receive the highest quality of service possible and have the peace of mind that their fees and charges will remain stable over a long period of time.

    As a rule, public private partnerships are a real blessing for a council’s budget as they are a reliable source of tax revenue. The most can be made of the opportunities to optimise operations. Successful collaboration work with the private sector preserves public property and creates jobs. Fees and charges are stabilised and the pressure on the public purse is relieved.

    This latest special issue is dedicated to the subject of public private partnerships and takes an in-depth look at the various PPP models, the advantages for local authorities and their residents and the positive impact they have on jobs, the environment and the local economy. Councils wishing to achieve long-term budget stability, high quality public services and maximum levels of sustainability by operating an environmentally responsible circular economy will find some valuable suggestions and accounts in this issue to help them with their decision-making processes.

    We look forward to working with you!

    Yours Ludger Rethmann

An international role model

  • Hamburger Phosphorrecyclinggesellschaft mbH (HPHOR), a joint venture between HAMBURG WASSER (60%) and REMONDIS Aqua (40%), laid the foundation stone for the world’s first ever phosphorus recovery facility in Hamburg in 2019. Both this facility and the public private partnership, which was founded to set it up and operate it, is acting as a role model beyond Germany’s borders as well – once again demonstrating what innovative advances can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together.

Phosphorus – vital for all forms of life

Phosphorus is a raw material that is essential for all forms of life on earth. According to the Geological Institute, our planet’s natural supplies of this material will have run out within the next 150 years. This new facility is recovering phosphorus from sewage sludge ash using the TetraPhos® process, a system that was developed by REMONDIS and has already been presented with the GreenTec Award. Each year, the plant produces around 7,000 tonnes of ultrapure phosphoric acid from ca. 20,000 tonnes of sewage sludge, which is then marketed under the brand name RePacid®. As a result, these two companies are showing how natural resources can be conserved in a truly sustainable and future-proof way. An important development as the UBA [Federal Environment Agency] expects the global demand for phosphorus to have exceeded supply between 2051 and 2092. With this in mind, the German government has stipulated that phosphorus must, by law, be recovered from wastewater from 2029 onwards.

Spearheading development together

    • Following the commissioning of the plant in 2020, HPHOR is the first company to fulfil this new law and systematically recover phosphorus on an industrial scale. This success clearly illustrates how collaboration work between public and private sector partners can make a decisive contribution towards conserving resources and promoting sustainable development. Something that not only directly benefits local inhabitants and local communities but also adds sustainable value to society as a whole: “Building this phosphorus recovery facility is an important project for Hamburg as an innovative business location. Recovering phosphorus lessens the impact humans have on the environment and enables a valuable substance to be reused,” commented Dr Peter Tschentscher, Hamburg’s First Mayor.

    This innovative raw material recovery project is being supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) with funds from the BMU’s Environmental Innovation Programme.

    Max Arnold Köttgen, board member of REMONDIS SE & Co. KG, explained: “Recovering phosphorus using REMONDIS’ TetraPhos® process meets both the expectations of the public and our social responsibility to protect natural resources. This system was developed by REMONDIS and is yet another example of how innovative our business is. It also clearly shows that recycling can be cost effective. Thanks to this system, we have not only already succeeded in meeting legal requirements that will come into force in the future, we have also further cemented our long-standing collaboration work with the City of Hamburg.”

    • In 2019, the foundation stone – a symbol of this strong collaboration work – was laid by (from left to right): Nathalie Leroy, Managing Director of HAMBURG WASSER, Dr Peter Tschentscher, First Mayor of Hamburg, Jens Kerstan, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of HAMBURG WASSER and Environment Senator, Norbert Rethmann, Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the RETHMANN Group, and Max Arnold Köttgen, REMONDIS Board Member

“Recovering phosphorus using REMONDIS’ TetraPhos® process meets both the expectations of the public and our social responsibility to protect natural resources.”

Max Arnold Köttgen, Board Member of REMONDIS SE & Co. KG

Security, innovation & foresight

Being the private sector partner in this collaboration and a specialist in delivering successful and expert water management, REMONDIS Aqua has been able to contribute its top quality work and years of experience to this public private partnership. This joint project is an engine for innovation and job growth in the Hanse City of Hamburg.

Facts & Figures

  • Hamburger Phosphorrecyclinggesellschaft mbH (HPHOR)

    • PPP model:
      cooperation model

      60% HAMBURG WASSER (Hamburger Stadtentwässerung AöR)
      40% REMONDIS Aqua

    • Specialises in:
      phosphorus recovery

      Processed sewage sludge ash:
      ca. 20,000 tonnes / year

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