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  • Dear Readers!

    There have been waste management laws in Germany for over 40 years now. At least once a decade, politicians have made some groundbreaking decisions. The “Deponieverordnung” (Landfill Ordinance), the separate kerbside collection system for waste packaging and the “TaSi”, which bans certain materials being taken to landfill and has been acting as a role model for many countries, are all examples of how they have succeeded in systematically moving the country’s waste management sector away from landfills towards more recycling. These courageous decisions, which more often than not involve large investments, have primarily been implemented by private sector businesses but also by municipal waste management companies. We have reached that crossroads again. Germany has to decide which direction it wishes to move in and just how sustainable it wishes to become. The country’s upper house, the Bundesrat, has instructed the Government to submit a draft bill for a new recyclables law by the end of the year, presenting a unique opportunity for them to catapult German recycling activities into a completely new dimension. It is a well-known fact that waste is a source of raw materials. According to a recent INFA study, a further 95kg of recyclable materials could be collected per person per year. The signals coming from the Ministry of the Environment, however, are not particularly encouraging. Here, they are obviously thinking of limiting this new law to waste packaging and wastes made of similar materials. When recycling bins were first introduced in Germany, they were used exclusively for collecting old sales packaging. The decision to allow them to also be used for waste made of similar materials was made a while ago now and it is estimated that this move would only increase the amount of recyclables collected by an additional 5kg per person per year. At REMONDIS, we believe even this figure to be illusory as our experience from collecting, sorting and recycling the contents of the recycling bins has shown that many people are already throwing wastes made of similar materials to packaging into the bin – an intelligent move even if they are not supposed to do this. If politicians limit the new law to just this area, then it will, for the most part, be completely ineffective. We are, therefore, calling on politicians to act as visionaries and be courageous. Make the most of this unique opportunity and set ambitious collection and recycling rates. This is the only way to ensure Germany has a secure supply of raw materials and that everything possible is done to prevent climate change.

    Developing sustainability in the water and recycling sectors is just beginning in Asia. Materials recycling has been neglected in this region for far too long and has hardly been able to keep up with the exponential growth on the continent. Singapore is now looking to do more in this area. One of the latest projects of the country’s National Environmental Agency (NEA) involves a new facility to process slag from waste incineration plants and recover ferrous and non-ferrous metals at the same time. REMEX is the company responsible for building and operating it. Once again, Singapore is forging ahead and acting as a role model for other densely populated regions in Asia.

    Back in Germany, REMONDIS continues to extend its successful cooperation work with local authorities. The recently founded AWIGO Logistik GmbH is the company’s latest joint venture – a public private partnership between the administrative district of Osnabrück and REMONDIS’ regional company, REMONDIS Nord.

    As always, I hope you enjoy reading about these and the many other topics in this latest issue of REMONDIS aktuell.

    Yours

    Max Köttgen 

Focusing on future-oriented projects

The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has launched a new initiative, KlimaExpo.NRW, which is to primarily focus on implementing the ‘energy turnaround’ (i.e. switching from fossil fuels to renewables) and reaching the targets set out to prevent climate change. The goal of the Expo is to make successful, future-oriented projects, which are aimed at protecting our climate, accessible to the public and so present the technological and economic potential of the state of NRW. Moreover, as the Expo project is due to run for eight years, it is also being seen as a kind of think tank and breeding ground for new ideas.

Recycling prevents climate change

The waste management and recycling sector is also playing an important role in the Klima.Expo, as it has already helped Germany to reach the first sub-goal set out in the Kyoto Protocol: to reduce methane emissions by a factor of 20. What is particularly notable about this sub-goal is that methane is approx. 26 times more harmful to the climate that carbon dioxide. By simply closing landfills to household waste and other types of waste with an organic content of > 5%, emissions of methane – which is produced as the organic material rots – have been able to be reduced by a factor of 20. 

Fewer greenhouse gases

Besides the success in this area, the waste management and recycling sector has made a further contribution towards preventing climate change: simply by operating an effective recycling sector, which focuses on generating energy as well as on reducing energy consumption, more greenhouse gases are avoided than produced.

The Lippe Plant as a Best Practice Project

The Lippe Plant will, therefore, soon be opening its doors and gates to the public to enable all those interested to see how the recycling sector works and how it can help to prevent climate change. If the ‘energy turnaround’ is to be achieved quickly and if businesses are to be operated in an energy efficient and environmentally friendly way, then innovative resource-efficient technologies are needed as well as a secure supply of raw materials. This, in turn, requires modern and efficient recycling processes. The Lippe Plant is already home to a wide variety of recycling facilities which enable numerous materials to be recovered and returned to production cycles or to generate climate-neutral energy. By developing new technologies, the company can create new recycling systems and increase the number of materials it is able to recycle. Today, REMONDIS is already able to produce many primary products from the secondary raw materials it has recovered at the Lippe Plant and so substitute large quantities of primary fossil and mineral raw materials. Thanks to its activities, REMONDIS is playing a major role in reducing carbon emissions as well as emissions of many other harmful gases such as methane.

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