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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.


    Max Köttgen 

“Earth Worth – cycle of life”

Focusing on the theme of “courage” this year, the “48 Stunden Neukölln” festival of arts (48 hours Neukölln) was officially opened in the Neukölln Arcaden shopping centre on 27 June. The paper processing facility on the grounds of REMONDIS’ branch in Berlin was perhaps one of the more unusual exhibition sites but it was also one of the most powerful among the approx. 300 art projects. Working together with REMONDIS GmbH & Co. KG, the artist Thomas Luettgen from Leverkusen put together a display of his fine art photography. Entitled “Earth Worth – cycle of life”, his exhibition aims to link the cycle of life with sustainability and recycling.

Taking a close look at consumption

With his collection of large-scale photographs, Thomas Luettgen is calling on the public to demonstrate courage and take a look at their own habits and at the way they consume and throw away products. The title of his project, “Earth Worth – cycle of life”, has a number of different meanings: at its core is an appreciation of our planet, its resources, its ability to provide us with a place to live and its incalculable importance for humanity. The cycle of life describes the symbiotic relationship between people, animals and plants: all must share this living space but it is the responsibility of humans alone to look after it. 

Turning recyclables into art

This artist reinforces his message by combining the senses of sight and touch. The recyclables addressed in the photos are presented with and by themselves. Thus, we find paper on paper, shown logically on wood, metal as an aluminium print, PET bottles on plastic film etc. Thomas Luettgen creates works of art which not only grab our attention but which also make us aware of the importance of the things we carelessly discard every day: these are valuable materials in every sense of the word. 

  • The message conveyed in Thomas Luettgen's art, namely to grow sustainability, is communicated on a variety of levels

Industrial facility makes way to art

Lutz Wedegärtner, branch manager of REMONDIS GmbH & Co. KG Berlin, was really pleased to be able to participate in the festival: “Being one of the largest employers in Neukölln, we are part of the “Kiez” neighbourhood and it is great that we can play an active role in the people’s lives here. Thomas Luettgen is an artist whose work involving recyclables is closely connected to our everyday business. This is the first time that we have seen recycled materials shown in such a beautiful way.”

The venue of this free public exhibition was the paper sorting hall at REMONDIS’ Lahnstrasse branch. Throughout the festival, the hall – normally a place full of paper and cardboard being processed for recycling – made way to art. The photos were hung on large blocks of paper and cardboard weighing several tonnes which, combined with the flair of a modern industrial plant, provided an effective backdrop for the photographer’s works of art. 

  • “We must change the way we see things if we wish to preserve our values.”

    Thomas Lüttgen, fine art photographer

Using art to raise awareness

Stefan Tschentscher, managing director at REMONDIS in Berlin, underlined the significance of the project: “People are fascinated by art. Thomas Luettgen’s photographs have succeeded in bringing sustainability, a subject so close to our hearts, to the attention of the visitors in a completely novel way. Presenting recycling as art can help to make people more aware of the importance of using our planet’s limited resources in a more sustainable manner.”

The ”Earth Worth – cycle of life“ exhibition will be travelling around Germany next year.

Many visitors were attracted to the “Earth Worth – cycle of life” exhibition and it will soon be taking part in a road show travelling to a number of cities around Germany. REMONDIS is supporting Thomas Luettgen with the current planning process so that as many people as possible are able to appreciate his powerful works of art. REMONDIS will post the dates and places of the planned road show on its website, www.remondis.de, and in the next issues of its REMONDIS aktuell magazine as soon as they have been announced. 

Thomas Lüttgen
Born in 1952, works as a photographer and fine art photographer

Thomas Luettgen’s “Earth Worth – cycle of life” exhibition focuses on the importance of handling our planet’s resources sustainably. He has succeeded in highlighting the beauty of everyday objects and invites people to share his point of view. Using his own special style, he transforms waste into a work of art underlining its importance as a raw material in the cycle of life on Earth. He forces those viewing his work to look at the photos more intensely by combining figurative and abstract imagery. He further intensifies this by giving the materials two functions, namely as the subject and as the backdrop of the photograph. luettgen.com

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