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In 2016, SOOO REMONDIS Minsk handled 200,000 tonnes of residual waste and 5,000 tonnes of materials from recycling bins. The additional work carried out by the company beyond the three districts it is responsible for in the Belarusian capital and the increase in the amount of recyclables it has been able to recover may have an impact on its future operations.
Almost 80 percent of Belarus’ approximately ten million inhabitants live in towns and cities. The country’s urban hub is, however, without a doubt its capital city Minsk which is home to practically two million people. “REMONDIS serves three of Minsk’s nine districts – collecting waste and recovering recyclables from around one million local residents,” explained Dr Ervin Kurtbedinov, managing director of REMONDIS Belarus. “We took over these operations at the beginning of the decade as part of a joint venture in which REMONDIS owns 51% of the shares and the City of Minsk 49%.”
SOOO REMONDIS Minsk and its 200+ employees organise waste management in the three districts whereby their focus is always on segregating recyclable from non-recyclable materials. They have built up a dedicated fleet of around 70 modern vehicles so that they can offer their services. “It is very clear that our work is appreciated – both by the local residents, who take their waste to the various containers, and by our main client, Minsk’s municipal company,” Dr Ervin Kurtbedinov continued. “We have often been praised for both the quality and the transparency of our work. The system that we have introduced here was based on our years of experience of working in Germany and other countries. Over the last seven years, we have continuously been adapting the professional networks used in other areas to meet the local conditions found here. Life in Belarus is in a state of flux and we have to adjust to the way things work here.”
SOOO REMONDIS Minsk deploys more than 70 collection vehicles in the country’s capital
Previously known as the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, the country used to be the most western part of the Soviet Union. Now, around 25 years since gaining its independence, it is looking to play its role as a neighbour of both the European Union and Russia, which has always had an influence on what happens in Minsk. One of the consequences of the Republic of Belarus gradually strengthening its position as an independent state on the global stage has, of course, been that its social and economic processes have changed as well. The subject of recycling has also taken a more prominent position than in the past now that the country is free to make its own decisions regarding energy issues.
“We wish to help Belarus as it takes the next step in its development. We can do this by making the most of our stable position as a family-run company, by using the local know-how of our employees and by pursuing our overall mission to make business more sustainable wherever we can. Compared to the recycling systems found in Western Europe, there is certainly still room for improvement here – especially when it comes to the amount of raw materials that are recovered from waste for re-use,” commented Dr Ervin Kurtbedinov. “We are always happy to talk to people who are interested in handling recyclables more responsibly – no matter how old or young they may be and no matter whether they are private individuals, companies or from local authorities.”
In his position as Chair of the Belarus working group at the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, REMONDIS Board Member Egbert Tölle has been working in an honorary capacity promoting the economic relations between Germany and Belarus for a number of years now. This work recently included him organising a trip to Minsk for a number of business people. The newly founded German-Belarusian business council also had their first official meeting during the trip, which took place between 30 May and 02 June. Co-Chair of the business council is Felix Zimmermann, who also works for REMONDIS where he is responsible for public affairs in Eastern Europe. The council’s inaugural meeting was also attended by Peter Dettmar, the German Ambassador based in Minsk, and Wladimir Makej, the Belarusian Foreign Minister.
More than 130 schoolchildren attending the secondary school 21 in Minsk spent a number of hours in their assembly hall this May to learn all about segregating waste. Once the event had been opened by their headteacher, representatives of the City of Minsk and Dr Kurtbedinov from REMONDIS Belarus, the children had the opportunity to take part in a variety of games – a fun way to find out how segregating waste works and why it is so important. The idea behind the event is simple: the joint venture company, REMONDIS Minsk, wishes to encourage people to start separating their waste at an early age and has developed a recycling concept for schools and youth organisations to get their message across. A number of such special events have already been held at several different schools and have always been given an enthusiastic welcome. Plans are, therefore, to expand and offer this project to other schools as well.
Learning for life – and how to protect the environment: REMONDIS’ school project in Minsk