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  • Dear Readers!

    There is good cause for celebration! 30 years of a unified Germany. Or perhaps we should say: ‘30 years of working on a unified Germany’? Seen from a historical perspective, it is certainly true to say that the reunification process has not yet been completed. In fact, looking at Germany’s history, you might well be excused for thinking that this process will never be completed. Each individual region has its own cultural peculiarities, its own dialect, its own sensibilities, its own breed of people. And, of course, their traditional dishes are worlds apart from each other. But that’s the way it should be as it is the differences that create a strong dynamic for change and enrich our culture and economy. Having said all that, we are still quite a young nation. Germany really hasn’t been around that long. Our country – as a federation of states – did not come into being until almost 100 years after the United States of America was founded. And we are all well aware that they are still working hard on unifying their nation.

    We are very grateful that our family-run business has been able to play a constructive role in shaping the reunification process from the start. While criticism continues to be directed towards the Treuhand (the agency responsible for privatising the former East German enterprises) for the way it acted – its focus was often on processing rather than developing – our aim has always been on finding robust, future-oriented solutions by working closely on the ground with the different city and regional authorities. The results speak for themselves – whether it be in the Lausitz region where our public private joint venture WAL Betrieb provides water management services and has kept fees and charges stable and jobs secure for decades now despite the region’s declining population; or in Schwerin, where the public private partnership between the city and REMONDIS has been hugely successful at delivering key services cost effectively. And these are just two examples of many. It was – and continues to be – the amazing personal dedication of the company’s employees in the regions that made it possible for REMONDIS to become a local east German family-run business in these new areas after the wall fell. What’s more, some of the family moved from the Westphalian town of Selm to make their home in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – but this just as a side note. Unity requires active commitment, as does sustainable development. REMONDIS is dedicated to both, always working with the future in mind.

    One thing is certain: there are a lot of things still – or once again – to be done. The recession brought on by Covid-19 is having a dramatic impact on the finances of local authorities. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the cities and districts faced a shortfall of 9.7 billion euros in the first six months of this year. As a comparison: the deficit amounted to just 0.3 billion euros a year ago. The reason for this negative trend was the drastic fall in revenue received by local governments in the second quarter of 2020. The German economy nosedived by 9.7% between April and June – the first time it has ever had to face such a huge drop. Yet another reason then for thinking about how the pressure can be taken off local governments in the future. They don’t have to do everything by themselves – the private sector is happy to help. Public private partnerships are a robust solution for delivering cost-intensive essential services, such as waste management and water management tasks. I and Professor Michael Schäfer, retired professor of public sector economics at the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, illustrate this very clearly with the help of many examples in one of the books we co-authored – and we don’t forget to mention the negative examples either. As everyone knows, people learn from their mistakes so they can do a better job in the future. And this is precisely what we are doing together with our friends and partners in the not so new states in the east of Germany, in Europe and across the world.

    We hope you enjoy reading this latest issue. Stay safe!

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

Alternatives to the internal combustion engine

Since its first move towards using clean refuse collection vehicles run on carbon-neutral biogas (as reported in the last issue of REMONDIS AKTUELL), the company has steadfastly continued its efforts to make its fleet of waste collection trucks as climate-neutral as possible. It has, for example, introduced its first battery-run refuse collection vehicle in the City of Cologne. A similar test has been up and running in Switzerland since the middle of the year. And the possibilities of running trucks on hydrogen and fuel cells is being looked into in Gifhorn, a town in the German state of Lower Saxony. One thing is very clear: the days of the internal combustion engine in the circular economy are numbered as well.

A new project testing an all-electric truck

  • REMONDIS has begun trialling a battery-run Mercedes-Benz eActros in Cologne. This 25-tonne lorry has a range of around 200 kilometres and REMONDIS is initially using it to transport new, damaged and/or repaired waste bins. This all-electric eActros should also be driven in areas that conventional trucks are not permitted to use. The eActros’s batteries are recharged overnight at REMONDIS’ maintenance depot in the city district of Rodenkirchen.

Trials in Cologne’s city centre

  • REMONDIS is testing the eActros in collaboration with its sister company Rhenus, a logistics specialist, as a joint project looking into alternative fuels. Cologne is the ideal setting for putting the battery-run eActros through its paces as these urban trips can be precisely planned and involve a great deal of stopping and starting. Stephan Krings, managing director of REMONDIS Rhineland, explained: “Being the biggest waste management business in Germany, sustainability and resource conservation are essential cornerstones of our company’s philosophy and influence all of REMONDIS’ activities. In line with this philosophy, the eActros in Cologne should perform its municipal tasks quietly and protect the environment at the same time – also on the roads where diesel-run vehicles are banned. Both we and our sister company Rhenus are really looking forward to seeing the eActros carry out its work in Cologne’s city centre and to hear the feedback from our drivers.”

    (from left to right) Heinz Uliczka, Sales Manager at LKW Mercedes Benz Dortmund, Wuppertal, Cologne, Stephan Krings, Managing Director REMONDIS Rhineland, Sascha Hähnke, Managing Director Rhenus Transport GmbH, and Peter Lindlar, Managing Director REMONDIS Wertstoffrecycling GmbH (Cologne), at the handover of their new eActros

  • “The eActros is proving to be a local carbon-neutral alternative for urban traffic.”

    Sascha Hähnke, Managing Director Rhenus Transport

A 200-kilometre range

Sascha Hähnke, managing director of Rhenus Transport, commented: “At Rhenus, ‘green logistics’ is a reflection of the company’s core values and of how it sees itself as a global logistics provider. Protecting the environment and handling resources responsibly, therefore, are an integral part of our corporate strategy. Which is why we feel it is so important to try out alternative fuels and use the best technology available on the market.” The many findings from the first test phase have shown that the eActros’s approx. 200-kilometre range is absolutely realistic – no matter what the load, stretch of road or topography. When it comes to availability and performance, the eActros is just as good as conventional diesel-run trucks in the cities, on motorways and on country roads – as well as in hot and cold weather. The drivers benefit as the truck is so much quieter and the ride much smoother. Electrical energy is harnessed by recuperation, which also reduces wear and tear on the brakes. The eActros is, therefore, proving to be a local carbon-neutral alternative for urban lorry work. The batteries are fully recharged within two hours with a 150kW charging point.

REMONDIS Switzerland is also trialling electric vehicles

Initial trials also began on an all-electric, battery-run refuse collection vehicle in Switzerland this summer. This prototype, owned by Futuricum, is being tested in Wallisellen at K. Müller AG, a REMONDIS subsidiary. The operational performance of the truck as it carries out a ‘normal day’s work’ has certainly been positive so far. However, it is not possible to ignore the maths. It costs considerably more to purchase such a truck in Switzerland compared to other vehicles, which means large numbers are unlikely to be bought in the near future.

REMONDIS Gifhorn – Hydrogen a further alternative

  • Hydrogen, though, should also be included in a company’s long-term strategy to decarbonise its fleet of trucks. Which is why REMONDIS has joined forces with FAUN, a manufacturer of refuse collection vehicles. The two firms began holding test runs in September to record data and get the information needed to enable hydrogen-run vehicles to be deployed. The test runs are due to have been completed by the end of the year. The recorded data should help to both plan logistics and provide details about what vehicle technology will be required. REMONDIS North’s associated company BEG has also been working with FAUN since 2017: together, they have been successfully trialling an all-electric refuse collection vehicle in Bremerhaven as part of a government-funded pilot project. The hydrogen alternative would, in fact, involve this technology combined with a fuel cell and hydrogen tank so that the trucks can travel greater distances in rural environments. Deploying hydrogen-run vehicles in the waste management sector can, therefore, help local regions to achieve their climate targets.

Transdev invests in electric buses in the Netherlands

  • In the meantime, Transdev has been continuing to grow its fleet of electric buses in the Netherlands. Having built up a fleet made up exclusively of electric buses in Eindhoven, REMONDIS’ associated business Transdev will be launching a fleet of 74 battery-run buses in the Gooi and Vecht region on 11 July 2021. Moreover, the company intends to add a further 156 electric buses to its operations in Haarlem and Amsterdam at the end of 2020.

    • An electric bus in action

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