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  • Dear Readers!

    If you look back at the editorial in the last issue of REMONDIS AKTUELL, then you’ll find that the comments made there were almost prophetic. Just one of the topics it mentioned was the droughts in 2018, predicting that we could expect much of the same this year. Here we are, just a few months on, and this prediction has come true. Having analysed empirical evidence and ice cores, the overwhelming majority of climatologists agree that these weather conditions have been caused by industrialised humans – and that they can only be put right by humans. The question here, of course, is how. Most people are focusing on cars, energy generated by fossil fuels and, of course, air travel. Everyone is talking about the electrification of vehicles. You just need to consider the physical facts, however, to realise this will not be easy to implement. Germany’s national grid, for example, would be unable to supply the power needed if all vehicle owners tried to recharge their car batteries at the same time. The question must, therefore, be asked whether electromobility is the right solution. The move towards the electrification of vehicles is well underway though, as is the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Scientists, however, are predicting that these measures will not be enough on their own. We have another good idea here and one that is practicable – as can be seen by REMONDIS’ daily work. Namely, making the most of the potential of recycling to curb climate change, preferably on a global scale. If humans were to succeed in systematically recovering raw materials and returning them to production cycles and if they were to stop sending waste to landfill (so methane is not produced there), then this would be the third most effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Germany made this move back in 2005 when it passed the ‘TASi’ [Technical Directive on the Recycling, Treatment and Disposal of Municipal Waste]. It is high time that a European TASi is drawn up or – even better – a global TASi. We are systematically implementing this law at REMONDIS every single day.

    Looking at the international stage, Russia is intensifying its efforts to reduce the amount of waste it takes to landfill by creating a well-functioning circular economy. The Russian government has launched an initiative that has made it obliga- tory for all 80 Russian regions to appoint a general operator to modernise their regional waste management sector and set up more recycling systems. For many years now, REMONDIS has been running just such a system in Saransk, the capital city of the Russian Republic of Mordovia and – according to a 2010 survey – one of the best cities to live in in Russia. The city is, therefore, acting as a role model, showing the direction that the Russian waste management sector could move in in the future.

    A number of our new apprentices joined the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement when they were at school, calling for more to be done to stop climate change. And so it was a logical decision for them to do their apprenticeship at REMONDIS where they can carve out a sustainable career for themselves, “Every Day for Future” so to speak. REMONDIS’ systematic recycling operations ensure waste is transformed into raw materials, energy and heat and play a considerable role in conserving natural resources and tackling climate change. Welcome to the climate professionals.

    Max Köttgen

A leader in technology

  • REMEX Recycling AG has been operating this facility – the first of its kind to be approved in Switzerland – in the city of Basel since the beginning of the year, providing a safe way to treat dangerous asbestos containing products. By getting this solution up and running, the company is spearheading the use of cutting-edge technology in its industry.

Big bags are not safe enough

In the past, any friable asbestos removed during building renovation projects was placed into large double-lined bags and transported to landfills that were permitted to accept and store this material. However, this system had an element of risk as the bags could be damaged while being landfilled and result in the asbestos being released into the environment. With this in mind, most of the landfills in Switzerland no longer accept asbestos in big bags.

The solution? Binding asbestos in a concrete matrix

  • REMEX has been using its own treatment process since the beginning of the year to eliminate the danger of such asbestos pollution and ensure the material can be disposed of safely.

    Asbestos was commonly used as a building material, for example for fireproofing, up until the 1980s.

    The first step here involves removing any contaminants such as wood, paper, plastics and metals as well as any other materials used as part of the building renovation work. The leftover asbestos material is then transported to a mixer via an enclosed conveyor belt. A concrete slurry mix is created by adding dry mortar and water, which is subsequently poured into formworks where it can harden. The finished concrete blocks (ca. 0.6m3) are loaded into skips and transported to the landfill.

    • The new facility binds asbestos in concrete blocks that can be placed cleanly into – and retrieved from – a landfill’s storage area

Extensive safety measures

  • So what’s special here? It is not only possible for the blocks to be placed cleanly into the landfill’s storage area, they can also be retrieved if necessary. This makes the landfilling process much safer and eliminates the danger of the asbestos escaping into the environment.

    Stringent safety precautions have been implemented at the plant as handling asbestos involves considerable risks. The whole of the concrete mixing facility is located in a separate room that can only be accessed via a double door system. The mixer, conveyor belt and sorting station are enclosed and have negative pressure at all times. The material in the sorting unit is handled using gloves attached to glove ports. This means that the operatives, who also wear personal protective equipment during their work, never come into direct contact with the asbestos containing material.

    Operatives must wear personal protective equipment and may only handle the material using gloves attached to glove ports

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