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  • Dear Readers!

    Many people will be looking at their calendar with a feeling of disbelief that this turbulent year is already coming to a close. 2021 has been a year that will remain in our memories for a long time to come. Here in Germany, the devastating floods that hit the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and parts of North Rhine-Westphalia were a strong reminder that we finally have to up our efforts and take some serious steps to curb climate change. And while the people living in the affected regions are still clearing up the rubble – also thanks to the rapid help from the circular economy – and working to rebuild their lives, the world met in Glasgow to argue about whether or not to phase out coal. At the same time, covid came back again with a vengeance this autumn. Hesitant politicians and organisational failure came up against a waning vaccine immunity and vaccine scepticism among a minority of the population, who seem determined to ignore scientific facts. And, this year was an election year – the end of the Chancellor Merkel era – and a perfect storm had been brewing in a political vacuum as the slow-moving coalition talks meant the new Government could not take up the reins. It is high time that the right course is set – in politics, in the economy and in society.

    Faced with such difficult situations, it is then almost a minor miracle that our family business has – together with and thanks to our partners and customers – had an exceptionally good year. Much of this can be put down to the global economy restarting in the spring after the strict covid measures were provisionally lifted. The flipside of unrestrained production activities and a highly charged global trade, though, soon became evident: a general shortage of raw materials. Anyone trying to build a house and get hold of timber or plastic pipes in 2021 certainly know all about this problem. As the year drew to an end, it was even difficult to get hold of recycling sacks because, being in such high demand, there is a shortage of recycled plastic pellets.  

    Which brings us to the subjects that unite the essence of the two previous paragraphs: climate action and resource conservation. The wide range of services that our company delivers plays a major role in helping to solve the problems mentioned above. By recycling materials, producing renewable energy and offering sustainable services, we are easing both problems at the same time. Each tonne of raw material recycled by our company not only conserves virgin resources but also cuts large volumes of carbon emissions. Along the way, we are also gradually switching over to climate-neutral logistics. Inspired, by the way, as well by our sister company Transdev, which already deploys whole fleets of electric buses in many cities around the world – a role model and an incentive for us to do even more.

    And so there is some good news as well at the end of this eventful year – and we would like to thank you all for the great collaboration work that made this possible. May we also take this opportunity to wish you a happy Christmas and all the very best for the coming year.

    Yours

    Ludger Rethmann

MVK won over by the convincing and sustainable concept

Müllverbrennung Kiel GmbH & Co. KG (MVK) and its project partner REMONDIS, Region North are planning to set up a sewage sludge incineration plant with an integrated phosphorus recovery system. The partners presented their joint project on 23 September 2021. Prior to this, REMONDIS regional managing directors Wolfgang Steen, Georg Jungen and Matthias Hartung had worked with Ralf Czarnecki, managing director of REMONDIS Aqua Stoffstrommanagement, to draw up a convincing and sustainable concept, with which – after several years of extremely constructive negotiations – they won over MVK managing directors, Dr Frank Ehlers and Daniel Benedict.

Part of the Green Deal

  • “This lighthouse project will ensure that the municipal sewage sludge in Kiel will soon be treated using a net zero process and that the energy produced from this process will be able to be fed into Kiel’s network as district heat,” commented the Mayor of Kiel Dr Ulf Kämpfer during the signing of the contracts. Together, the shareholders – the City of Kiel and REMONDIS GmbH & Co. KG, Region North – intend to invest 80 million euros. Kiel council passed a unanimous resolution approving the project in August 2021. “Besides providing a supply of green district heat, this plant will also be reusing the water recovered during the sludge pre-treatment stage in its own operations – a further step towards protecting the environment and tackling climate change. This project is being supported by the EU LIFE programme as part of the European Union’s Green Deal,” the Mayor of Kiel continued, whose city actively promotes climate action.

    MVK’s Managing Director, Dr Frank Ehlers, Sabine Schirdewahn, Plant Manager at Kiel’s Eigenbetrieb Beteiligungen, Wolfgang Steen, Managing Director of REMONDIS, Region North, and the Mayor of Kiel, Dr Ulf Kämpfer, were delighted to be able to sign the contract for a new sewage sludge incineration plant and phosphorus recovery facility

The partnership will act as a model across the country

“We have been a shareholder in Kiel’s waste incineration plant for over 20 years now and our work with the City of Kiel has always been both very good and successful,” explained Wolfgang Steen, managing director of REMONDIS GmbH & Co. KG, Region North. “Which is why we are particularly pleased that we will not only be building and operating the sewage sludge incineration plant together but also Germany’s second phosphorus recovery facility. We have been committed to Kiel for many years and this long-term contract – which covers a term of 20 years plus the option to extend – further reinforces this commitment. This partnership with the City of Kiel is a model for REMONDIS across the country.”

The legislator has made it mandatory for phosphorus to be recovered from 2029 onwards. Kiel is setting the course for this right now.

Wolfgang Steen continued: “It is REMONDIS’ mission to generate recyclable materials from every single gram of waste. With this in mind, we’ve been working on the important task of recovering phosphorus – a vital substance and finite raw material – from sewage sludge for many years now so that it can be returned to production cycles. This pioneering project in Kiel will be using the TetraPhos® process, which was developed by REMONDIS itself. This is a perfect fit as it means we will be adding more of our highly specialised expertise in the areas of climate action and environmental protection to the long-standing partnership with the City of Kiel.”

“We have been a shareholder in Kiel’s waste incineration plant for over 20 years now and our work with the City of Kiel has always been both very good and successful.”

Wolfgang Steen, Managing Director of REMONDIS GmbH & Co. KG, Region North

A milestone on Kiel’s path to becoming net zero

Sabine Schirdewahn, plant manager at Kiel’s Eigenbetrieb Beteiligungen, said: “The collaboration between the managing directors of Kiel’s waste incineration plant has been very good and constructive for over 20 years. It is shaped by their determination to ensure the plants’ operations are sustainable and that they are run safely to protect both people and the environment. At the same time, besides actively protecting the environment and curbing climate change, Kiel’s waste incineration plant and the future sewage sludge incineration facility and phosphorus recovery system are all sound and viable businesses.”

This project is the result of the long-standing, constructive collaboration between the associated REMONDIS companies as well as between the cooperation partners MVK and REMONDIS.

“With the contract signed, MVK can now recycle sewage sludge and recover the vital raw material phosphorus,” concluded Dr Frank Ehlers, managing director of MVK. “Besides recovering the phosphorus, our partner REMONDIS will, over the next 20 years, be responsible for sewage sludge deliveries, sewage sludge transport and ensuring the sewage sludge can be handled when the plants are shut down for inspections. In this particular partnership, MVK will be in charge of building and operating the sewage sludge incineration plant – the next phase of the project can now begin. We’re really pleased that this stage has been reached as our team has been working hard on this for several years now. The project is progressing really well,” he continued. A number of key preliminary tasks have already been wrapped up. The control technology needed to refurbish the existing plant and connect the new – yet to be built – facility has also been agreed on by contract. And the very important job of searching the grounds for any potential hidden explosives has been carried out without incident and will soon be completed. The next milestone can then begin on Kiel’s path to becoming net zero.

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