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  • Dear Readers!

    The summer break has come to an end and people are gradually returning to work – as are the MPs in Berlin. Once again, environmental politicians are focusing on the subjects of waste management and recycling. The coalition agreement, signed by the Government in 2013, gives great importance to curbing global warming and using our planet’s natural resources efficiently and also expressly states that innovations that protect the environment, prevent climate change and preserve resources are also opportunities for economic growth. Industry specialists are well aware, however, that economic growth and more innovations are only possible if there are clear framework conditions in place that guarantee fair competition, if product responsibility is extended and if recycling targets are raised. The latter, in particular, can only be implemented if the necessary legal framework has been established so that joint kerbside collection schemes for packaging and other recyclables can be set up.

    Unfortunately, the latest draft bill for the new packaging law has failed to deliver what many had been hoping for. What we seem to have here is the eighth amendment to the Packaging Ordinance rather than a genuine recyclables law. Whilst there are a few positive approaches to remedying the current deficiencies, it does not deal with the question of whether waste made of similar materials to packaging should also be collected in recycling bins. The increased recycling targets are well below the volumes that could actually be recovered from household waste. According to the latest studies, an additional 7.8 million tonnes of raw materials could still be collected which in turn would reduce carbon emissions by a further 1.6 million tonnes. Moreover, the need for fair competition and a level playing field between the private and public sector companies has not been tackled in the draft bill either. And there is practically no mention of introducing effective ecodesign guidelines that would force manufacturers to think about how their products could be recycled when actually designing them. We must wait and see whether this draft bill actually becomes law. The private recycling sector believes that a number of improvements need to be made to the bill. Time is running out, however, with the general election coming up next year.

    REMONDIS demonstrates just what can be done with waste and how the very most can be made of these materials to curb climate change and protect the environment – such as at its Lippe Plant in Lünen. The efforts being made by the company here were officially recognised recently when KlimaExpo.NRW (a cross-departmental initiative of the state government of NRW to prevent climate change, conserve resources and achieve sustainable economic growth) added three of the Lippe Plant’s areas of expertise to its list of the twelve best projects in North Rhine-Westphalia. At this site, industrial and household waste is recycled and turned into primary products for industrial businesses, waste and residual materials are transformed into fuels and, last but by no means least, biomass is recycled or used to generate energy. These three areas of expertise alone reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 416,000 tonnes every year – and are, therefore, getting as close as technically possible to achieving fully closed cycles. The Lippe Plant flagship project is becoming ever more effective. It is high time that this model becomes the norm so that future generations also have a planet worth living on.


    Thomas Conzendorf

Photographs & objects highlighting our throwaway society

  • When PET bottles become art, then there can only be one message: there is no such thing as waste – only recyclables!

    The “Earth Worth“ exhibition put on by German artist Thomas Luettgen had a record number of visitors making it the most successful art exhibition ever to be staged by the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen. Thomas Luettgen’s latest exhibition, “Earth Worth – Perspectives & Values”, which will be taken around the country, opened its doors to the public for the very first time in Hall 5 of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein on 11 May. The exhibits are photographs and photographic objects illustrating our consumption and throwaway society. REMONDIS is supporting this exhibition, especially as it believes this art may truly succeed in changing people’s opinions about their waste-producing habits. Looking at the venue and the subject, it was only fitting that the waste management specialists, Essener Entsorgungsbetriebe, and NABU (German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) were there to provide their support. 

Works of art from Thomas Luettgen

  • The way the large photographic collages and three-dimensional pictures combine the senses of sight and touch is truly remarkable. All exhibits illustrate a stage of a recycling process. At first glance, viewers see pre-sorted categories of recyclable substances. A longer look, though, and these materials are seen in a completely different way. One common feature throughout the whole of the exhibition is that the material on which the works of art have been placed reflects the subject of the picture itself. Thus, for example, a picture with a metal theme has been printed on a metal surface. Thomas Luettgen has also created a limited number of three-dimensional pictures. The impression is that of a relief giving the visual image a three-dimensional surface.

  • Cardboard is becoming ever more important as online sales continue to grow. Thomas Luettgen is using his artistic skills to get people to think about this material as well

Art with a clear message

  • The aesthetics of the recyclable materials combined with the 3D effect has the potential to change the way people think and to get them to re-assess what is important to them. This exhibition gives a clear message: with the world’s population continuing to grow and our natural resources continuing to decline, there can and must be no waste – only recyclable materials.

    The high number of visitors is a clear sign that this message is getting across. Over 5,000 people travelled to the Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex to see the “Earth Worth” exhibition. Thanks to this success, Thomas Luettgen’s art has resulted in many people learning more about the true value of recycling.

    A film about the art exhibition held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Zollverein’ (in German)

Thomas Luettgen

    • Thomas Luettgen (born in Leverkusen on 27 March 1952) is a German photographer and fine artist. He has focused on fine art since 2007. Having trained to become a colour lithographer, he then set up his first communications agency, which soon became one of the most successful agencies in Germany with him at the helm as managing director and creative head.

    Inspired by a trip to Namibia in 2007 and the power of the imagery he found there, he decided to focus on creating art. In 2010, he produced a series of works entitled ‘crossTHing’ which were based on the photographs he had taken in Africa. These pieces of art took a detailed look at the country, people and nature of Namibia and clearly illustrate his fascination for the region. During his trip, Thomas Luettgen spent much time looking at the lives and culture of the Namibian Himba tribe. He documented their way of life in a series of photos and produced a stunning portrait of this indigenous tribe.

    Whilst visiting the Namib Desert, Thomas Luettgen came face to face with the legacy of our modern society: plastic bottles carelessly discarded without a thought for the consequences. The sight of these foreign objects lying in the middle of one of the world’s oldest deserts prompted him to use art to take a critical look at the way humanity handles its natural resources. His first series of photos about this subject – entitled “Valuable” – was published in 2012.

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