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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!


    Ludger Rethmann

A wasteland for over 20 years

  • There are very few sites in Duisburg that have caused more controversy than the city’s former freight train depot. A whole number of plans have been drawn up for this 35-hectare plot of land situated between the A59 motorway and Duisburg’s main railway station since it was decommissioned in 1996. These have included plans for a new stadium, a shopping centre, the “Duisburger Freiheit” [Duisburg Freedom] project, a furniture store as well as a designer outlet. In 2010, the site made the headlines for all the wrong reasons after a number of people tragically died following a stampede at the Love Parade being held there. It is now time for new beginnings. “This is where the future starts,” commented the Mayor of Duisburg, Sören Link. The goal: to create a modern city district with residential, commercial and leisure opportunities.

Contract awarded to a REMONDIS PPP

Being such a politically sensitive site, a variety of consultations were first held involving a number of high-profile people working for the City of Duisburg including Mayor Sören Link, the leaders of the CDU and SPD parties and the managing director of GEBAG. This process ended with the contract for the extensive demolition work at the old train depot being awarded to Servicebetriebe Duisburg GmbH (SBD), a public private partnership between REMONDIS and Wirtschaftsbetriebe Duisburg that serves several municipal key accounts including the land developers, GEBAG. The old railway building has already been removed from the latest animated 3D model on the ‘www.am-alten-gueterbahnhof.de’ website. In reality, though, the demolition activities have been a huge challenge as the work has involved handling large volumes of hazardous materials.

A complex task

Daniel Kratz, operations manager at SBD, explained: “You can’t simply just rip down the buildings. Everything has had to be carefully dismantled bit by bit.” The demolition project began back in May and the work above ground has almost been completed. To begin with, the asbestos cement tiles and PAH-contaminated sheeting had to be removed from the roof, before the frame of the roof could be taken apart and sent for recycling. Another complex task included removing the tarmac and the platforms section by section. To make the dismantling process as safe as possible, the PCB-contaminated paint was first stripped off the walls before they were taken down. The pipes were freed of their synthetic mineral fibre (SMF) covering in a separate step before they, too, were dismantled. “These were not simple tasks and the work on the building’s foundations has been particularly complex, as well,” Daniel Kratz continued. He has, he said, been particularly grateful for the support of Patricia Pardulla, who has been acting as a go-between to access the specialist knowledge needed across the REMONDIS Group. The project’s remit also involved carrying out an extensive examination of the site to check for old weapons. At one stage, the A59 motorway had to be closed with the help of the ‘Straßen NRW’ Highways Agency.

“You can’t simply just rip down the buildings. Everything has had to be carefully dismantled bit by bit.”

Daniel Kratz, Operations Manager at SBD

Specialist waste management expertise indispensable

  • “One of the buildings was unable to be taken down before the damage in its basement – caused by an old fire – had been redressed. We were able to call on REMONDIS Industrie Service at short notice here to help us remove the water used to extinguish the fire as well as an old oil tank,” said Daniel Kratz. On top of this, the company had to deal with some less common types of waste, such as drug-related litter left behind by the drug addicts who had, for many years, sought shelter in the basement of the old freight train depot. REMONDIS Medison provided the specialist support needed here.

    A very strict safety concept has been drawn up for the whole of the remediation project, not least because of the Love Parade tragedy. This covers both the employees and machinery deployed on site as well as the way the wastes are handled, including all materials that require permanent supervision. SBD has, for example, used a robot to perform tasks in one particular area where there was a danger of the building collapsing. A team of 20 people work at the old freight depot site every day. With the help of six special vehicles, a screening machine and a crusher, they are working flat out to get the job done.

A logistical challenge

Transporting the many different waste fractions from the site has also been a great logistical challenge, as Patricia Pardulla, a key account manager at REMONDIS West, explained: “Months of planning were needed to organise the dismantling work and the transport and treatment of all the waste materials. Our goal has always been to complete the work safely in as short as time as possible as well as to recycle as many of the materials as possible.” Throughout, SBD and its client, GEBAG, have been able to rely both on the REMONDIS Group’s robust logistics systems and on its extensive network of branches and facilities.

What remains: memories – and sustainable building supplies

  • Each day, a whole range of different kinds of materials are transported away from the premises in skips and containers. By the end of this project, these will have included 430 tonnes of waste timber, 330 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated building materials, 600 tonnes of roofing felt, 30 tonnes of bulky waste, 15 tonnes of PCB-contaminated building and demolition waste, 26 tonnes of SMF, 26 tonnes of waste plaster and 1,000 tonnes of old metal. The only materials left on site are mineral wastes. The aim here is for these to be broken up and – ideally – recycled so that they can re-used for the redevelopment of the area. Samples of all the materials are taken and examined regularly by UCL, a REMONDIS company providing environmental testing and analysis services.

    The redevelopment plans should have been completed by summer 2021. By then, Daniel Kratz, Patricia Pardulla and their partners will have finished their work – paving the way for a modern district in Duisburg.

    • Patricia Pardulla, Project Manager at REMONDIS, and Daniel Kratz, Operations Manager at SBD, are responsible for running the project to dismantle the former freight train depot on Duisburg’s Love Parade site

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