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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

Automation is growing in importance

Rhenus, REMONDIS and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund have developed a sensor for the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of an enterprise lab that tracks the fill levels and movement of bins. Two important pieces of information for improving the coordination of bin-emptying schedules. Transmitted to a cloud via the 5G-compatible machine and sensor network Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT), the recorded data can then be used to optimise bin collection routes. This will make it easier to plan routes and schedules and enable this task to become automated over the medium term.

Economical, reliable, maintenance-free

The benefits offered by these smart sensors are obvious: economical, reliable, maintenance-free and extremely energy-efficient, they are perfect for being used at scale with IoT technology and are a valuable instrument for both customers and Rhenus and REMONDIS as their service provider. “We will be able to optimise our collection schedules to such an extent that we only ever travel to bins that are registered as full in the cloud. This means we save both time and fuel and can avoid unnecessary empty running. As a result, our staff have more time to deal with customer requests – increasing the quality of our service and relieving the pressure on our own organisation as well as our customers’,” explained Michael Wiegmann, a managing director at Rhenus and the person in charge of this project. This also means, of course, that the system helps protect the environment, underlining both Rhenus’ and REMONDIS’ sustainable corporate philosophy.

Positive feedback all round

Once the initial development and project phases had been successfully completed, the sensors were installed in both Rhenus’ bins used for collecting confidential documents, files and data storage media and REMONDIS’ recycling bins at the end of 2019. Focus was primarily put on fitting them into customer systems that either require large numbers of bins or involve a complex ordering and time-consuming fulfilment process. “The feedback from our customers has been positive across the board. They see us as being an innovative service provider and some of them are even planning to make this sensor technology a mandatory requirement in their future procurement projects. Both sides benefit from this system,” Michael Wiegmann continued, adding, “All of our staff involved in this project have also reacted extremely positively.”

“We will be able to optimise our collection schedules to such an extent that we only ever travel to bins that are registered as full in the cloud.”

Michael Wiegmann, Managing Director Rhenus

Further applications possible in the future

  • Long-term plans are to increase the number of bins equipped with this sensor from the current 1,000+ to over 100,000 as well as to use them for similar applications within the company group. Other types of data (such as shock/vibration levels or the angle and inside temperature of the bin) can also be measured and recorded by the sensor and these are being planned for the future. By developing innovative bins, Rhenus and REMONDIS are not only showing their customers that they are the best partner for the services they need. They have also taken a further important step towards setting up fully digitised and, in the medium term, fully automated chains of processes.

Potential benefits of integrating blockchain technology

  • End-to-end digital résumé of the service
  • Complete automation of all information sharing processes 
  • Full information transparency & traceability
  • Reliable auditing

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