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On 26 August 2020, Norbert Rethmann, honorary chairman of the supervisory board of the REMONDIS Group, was presented with the Europamedaillie [Europe Medal] by the CDU/CSU European Parliamentary Group. Dennis Radtke, MEP, coordinator of the EPP Group’s Committee for Employment and Social Affairs, and Chair of the CDA in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, travelled to Selm, the town where Norbert Rethmann was born, to hand over the medal.
The award was presented to Norbert Rethmann in recognition of his exceptional commitment to business in the European member states as well as for his outstanding achievements in setting up and shaping the European industry federation, FEAD. During his speech at the official awards ceremony, MEP Dennis Radke stressed the urgent need to strengthen Europe during this unprecedented period. Entrepreneurship, he said, was essential here and the business acumen that Norbert Rethmann had shown throughout his career so far was a perfect example of this – especially his willingness to invest in people. Radtke focused attention on the fact that the business sector must offer young people in Europe a positive vision. If it failed to do this, there could be no real vision for Europe either. In his reply, Norbert Rethmann acknowledged Dennis Radke’s words, saying that he had always invested in people in the past, for example by concluding agreements with employees and their representatives to ensure stability. He urged entrepreneurs across the country not just to call for a strong state but to take action themselves.
Another award for a great European: Norbert Rethmann, Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the REMONDIS Group, being presented with the Europe Medal by the CDU/CSU European Parliamentary Group
Norbert Rethmann’s career has reflected this belief. Indeed, he began working at European level many years ago. By the beginning of the 1980s, it had become clear that the framework conditions governing waste management across the EU member states was being increasingly influenced by Brussels. European waste management businesses realised that they needed to have a strong body representing their interests in the European institutions and Norbert Rethmann played a key role in setting up the European Federation for Waste Management and Environmental Services (FEAD) in 1981. The founding members were the Bundesverband der Deutschen Entsorgungswirtschaft e. V. (BDE; at that time based in Cologne), the Fédération Nationale des Activités du Déchet (FAND) in Paris, and the National Association of Waste Disposal Contractors (NAWDC) in London.
Right from the start, Norbert Rethmann showed his commitment towards the European federation FEAD, whose foundation came about thanks to his and Gustav-Dieter Edelhoff’s resourcefulness. He was president of FEAD from 1984 to 1990, during which time he played a decisive role in shaping the development of the European waste management sector – driving it towards becoming a genuine recycling industry focused on maximum levels of sustainability. The fact that his profoundly Europe-friendly ideas were – and still are – of visionary character is reflected today in the European Green Deal where recycling plays such an important part. Norbert Rethmann realised at a very early stage that it would not be possible to truly curb climate change and conserve resources unless there was a concerted effort across Europe to grow recycling activities. And so, in recognition of his achievements in coordinating the interests of the circular economy businesses in the different EU member states, he was presented with the CDU/CSU Europe Medal in his home town of Selm on 26 August.