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  • Dear Readers!

    This editorial was written and ready for print and focused primarily on the EU’s Green Deal. And then coronavirus spread around the world and the text had to be revised. Despite the current situation, though, the Green Deal remains one of the most important projects for the European circular economy. And many other things have happened as well – the question surrounding DSD, for example.

    It is now official. On 22 April 2020, the first Cartel Panel of the Higher Regional Court [Oberlandesgericht] of Düsseldorf dismissed our appeal against the Cartel Office’s decision. Their ruling surprised us as we were sure that we had the better arguments in favour of us acquiring Duales System Deutschland GmbH. But we live under the rule of law and we will, of course, accept their decision. What we need to do now is to take the time required to take a detailed look at the Panel’s reasons for dismissing our appeal and then carefully decide what our next steps should be. In light of the fact that all other major competitors operate in this market, it will be interesting to see to what extent REMONDIS will get involved in the Dual System in the future.

    It is not so easy to look ahead at the moment, though, faced with the current coronavirus emergency. When the first media reports came through on 29 December last year that China had informed the WHO that it had an unexplained cluster of people suffering from an unidentified lung disease, no one realised just how hard or how fast this virus would affect the globalised economy. It is practically impossible to estimate the costs incurred by the economy grounding to a halt as a result of the virus. And it is not just the private sector that has felt the impact. Many city and district authorities were already in financial difficulties before the crisis began. Their situation can only get worse, now that their revenue from local business tax and their takings from their local amenities have plummeted. Maybe it is time to set aside old arguments and enter into long-term partnerships with the private sector that will benefit both parties – especially when it comes to delivering essential public services. Setting up public private joint ventures dedicated to providing essential services could help mitigate the consequences of the crisis. At the end of the day, ‘a load shared is a load halved’. One positive coming from these unprecedented times is the increased sense of solidarity among the population and towards many sections of the economy. REMONDIS, too, is there to help and support its municipal partners – during this crisis more than ever.

    Past pandemics have rarely lasted longer than two years. At some stage – whether with or without a vaccine – public life and business will return to normal. This will be the moment when it will become clear to all that our planet’s biggest problem – climate change – has not solved itself. Once again, the spotlight will be turned on the European Union’s Green Deal. Looking at a list published from within the EU, there is a danger of important regulations being watered down, especially in the area of the circular economy. In contrast, the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, expressly advises against neglecting climate action and environmental protection following the Covid-19 crisis in its ad-hoc statement published on 14 April 2020. In fact, it recommends the exact opposite. The economy must be kick-started so that it can grow again and should, it says, be “guided more firmly than before by considerations of sustainability, not least because this offers vast potential for economic growth.” Climate change is and will continue to be the biggest challenge for the future and REMONDIS, being one of the leading water and recycling businesses, will continue to put forward its solutions and play an important role.

    With this in mind: stay safe and stay positive.

    Thomas Conzendorf

Key workers in the spotlight

They were hardly mentioned until just recently. Now – with our country plunged into the Covid-19 crisis – everyone is talking about them: the front-line professions in Germany. People are now expressing their huge gratitude for the work being carried out by firefighters, the police, doctors, nurses and carers, those working in the legal system, IT and logistics, food and hygiene suppliers as well as all those involved in supply and waste management. Marcel Beier and Manuel Schoppe, both truck drivers working at REMONDIS, are, therefore, a little bit prouder than they might otherwise be of the job they are doing.

Residents show their appreciation

“Just last week, a complete stranger waved at me and thanked me for doing my job,” commented Marcel Beier from Kiel. “Children, in particular, seem to be thinking of us. Every day, we find their colourful chalk drawings on the roads – especially around the bins,” added Manuel Schoppe from Olpe. Which is why residents are now standing on their balconies or at their open windows at 9pm every evening to applaud these front-line workers and show their gratitude for all the extra work they are carrying out at the moment. Applause that they have, in truth, always deserved – not just now.

“Just last week, a complete stranger waved at me and thanked me for doing my job.”

Marcel Beier, REMONDIS driver from Kiel

More waste, more parked cars

The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact in other ways as well – one that both drivers have noticed: the volumes of waste in the residual waste, organic waste and recycling bins are much bigger than normal. Hardly surprising, considering that around half the working population are currently working from home. “Panic shopping and the increase in online purchases are also playing a role here. We’re handling up to one-third more sacks than normal,” the two explain. Parked cars have always posed a problem for drivers of refuse collection trucks but the situation is worse than ever at the moment. “We rely on a number of turning areas to manoeuvre our trucks and these are more often than not full of parked cars,” Manuel Schoppe continued.

Both REMONDIS drivers are also well aware of the danger of catching the virus. Which is why they are both wearing considerably more personal protective equipment than usual and are well equipped with disinfectant. The different shifts have also been staggered to reduce contact between employees to a minimum. “The public health authorities have confirmed that it’s very unlikely that Covid-19 sticks to the surfaces. You can’t completely get the thought out of your head, though, that you might get infected from touching the overflowing bins and sacks,” Manuel Schoppe said.

Recycling sector growing in importance

  • No one knows how long this crisis will go on for. The importance of the recycling sector, however, will continue to grow after it is over. An assessment will be made of what front-line services were provided during the crisis and the significance of recycling and the sector’s recovery of resources will remain as high as ever, even if the pandemic has given the climate a short breathing space. Marcel Beier and Manuel Schoppe certainly hope that people will continue to be grateful for and appreciate the work they do after the crisis is over as well.

    Manuel Schoppe and Marcel Beier

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