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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.


    Ludger Rethmann

Organic waste transformed into energy

  • The new digester plant at the VZEK (Erftkreis Recycling Centre) was officially opened on 06 July 2021 and is now being used to transform organic waste into energy. The decision was made to modernise and extend the site as the neighbouring Rhine-Erft district wished its approx. 55,000 t/a of municipal organic waste to be used to generate electricity. As a result, the VZEK composting plant in Erftstadt was extended and is now home to a modern digester with a throughput of 35,000 t/a and a new tunnel composting system able to handle almost 40,000t a year.

    • Sealing the opening of the new plant: Frank Rock, District Administrator of the Rhine-Erft District (l.), and Norbert Rethmann, Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the RETHMANN Group (r.)

More climate action and resource protection in the region and beyond

  • In light of the need to curb climate change and conserve natural resources, the VZEK and its new facilities will be contributing towards the raw material and energy transition in a number of different ways. The site has increased the amount of materials it can handle by a further 45,000 t/a. Its so-called co-digestion plant can process a total of up to 183,000t of organic waste every year and transform it into high quality compost and low carbon biogas. This biogas is then used to produce climate-neutral electricity in the combined heat and power plants, which are also located on the site. Looking ahead, the biogas could also be used as a carbon-neutral fuel in the future to run the growing fleet of climate-friendly refuse collection trucks in the Rhine-Erft district and beyond.

    The existing composting plant has been extended and is now home to a digester with a throughput of 35,000 t/a and a new tunnel composting system able to handle almost 40,000 t/a

  • of municipal organic waste is generated in the Rhine-Erft district every year. The council’s wish that it be used to recover energy was the reason behind the modernisation

Official opening held on site and broadcast on the internet

  • Besides RETERRA’s managing directors, Barbara Junker and Aloys Oechtering, the event was also attended by the district administrator of the Rhine-Erft District, Frank Rock, and the honorary chairman of the supervisory board of the RETHMANN Group, Norbert Rethmann.

    The VZEK will be contributing towards the raw material and energy transition in a number of different ways in the future.

    A round table discussion was also held during the opening, which was broadcast on the internet. The guests and the moderator made the most of this opportunity to discuss the importance of the circular economy as a means to conserve our planet’s natural resources and tackle climate change. The German government’s new Climate Change Act stipulates that Germany must be net zero by 2045 – five years ahead of the EU Commission’s own ambitious goal.

    Besides RETERRA’s Managing Directors, Barbara Junker (centre) and Aloys Oechtering (3rd left), the event was also attended by the District Administrator of the Rhine-Erft District, Frank Rock (4th left), and the Honorary Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the RETHMANN Group, Norbert Rethmann (5th left)

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