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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

The city is becoming more and more attractive

  • There are changes happening in Altena, a small town situated in the Sauerland region. Watched over by Altena Castle, it definitely has a more modern feel – both in its streets and on its promenade along the Lenne river. Hendrik Voß, head of the municipal utilities company (Stadtwerke), believes it is also one of his tasks to help develop Altena and make it more attractive.

Making good use of the energy available

A number of measures have been taken to modernise Altena’s energy management system, beginning with the construction of a new combined heat and power (CHP) plant in 2016. Now up and running, this facility is proving to be both more reliant and considerably more efficient than its predecessor. What’s more, it is able to cut CO2 emissions by 42 tonnes every year. The heat generated by the CHP plant is used to produce warm water for and heat the surrounding buildings; the electricity is supplied to the utility company’s head office building. Moreover, it powers the buildings’ outdoor lighting system, which has been completely converted to LED lighting, and will even be used to recharge the utility company’s electric vehicles in the future.

Firm’s own electricity will power its fleet

The Stadtwerke is planning to procure its first electric cars this year. Two electric box trucks will replace the diesel-run vehicles currently being used by the Stadtwerke engineers. “Our employees have already tested the trucks and they were very happy with them,” commented managing director, Hendrik Voß. This means that the capacity of the CHP plant can be further optimised. Its significance for the climate is an important argument for Voß as well: “Generating electricity from natural gas has an even better carbon footprint than the average electricity mix here in Germany,” he explained.

Altena’s utilities company has signed up to a voluntary scheme in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia that compares the performance of different companies to improve water supply.

Using the potential of the reservoir and river

  • The utilities company has been deploying a digital water distribution management system for two years now to ensure the town has all the drinking water it needs – no matter how dry the weather. This system guarantees that all of Altena’s water requirements can be covered, even in an extreme drought. Modern IT is used here to record data about the water levels in the reservoir and the water pressure in the different suburbs so that the water can be distributed around the town in the best possible way.

    • “Digitisation and climate action are two topics that the energy and water management sectors can bring together and unite. Our latest figures underline our commitment to our region. More than 70 cents of every euro the Stadtwerke Altena receives remain in the region. That is sustainability as well,” commented Stadtwerke managing director Hendrik Voß, underlining the philosophy of this local utilities company.

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