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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

Plant-operated facilities generating energy from non-recyclable waste

Anyone taking steps to curb climate change and conserve natural resources will also prefer to use exemplary energy supply solutions. REMONDIS’ Lippe Plant is a perfect example of this. Just like the network of plants and facilities located at this recycling centre, there is a smart system managing energy supply that creates synergies and adds value. At its heart: the plant-operated facilities that generate energy from non-recyclable waste.

Substantial quantities of natural resources are conserved

A whole range of processing facilities transform large volumes of waste into valuable materials at REMONDIS’ Lippe Plant, Europe’s largest industrial recycling centre. Around 900,000 tonnes of recycled products leave the site every year – from high quality plastic pellets, to certified compost, all the way through to environmentally friendly biodiesel. Looking at its operations from a sustainable point of view, these activities ensure that substantial quantities of natural resources are conserved and that carbon emissions are cut by around 488,000 tonnes year on year.

“All in all, REMONDIS’ two power stations and its biogas plant supply 222,300 megawatt hours of steam and electricity to external customers every year.”

  • Generating energy from waste reduces the demand for fossil fuels making it a future-proof system that helps to conserve natural resources and curb climate change

Producing energy with fluidised-bed combustion

Every year, the Lippe Plant requires 114,600 megawatt hours of energy and most of this is supplied by the site’s own fluidised-bed power station. This power station used to serve an aluminium plant and was originally designed to be fired with hard coal. Nowadays, it supplies the whole of the Lippe Plant with electricity, heat (in the form of steam) and compressed air – produced using environmentally friendly means, i.e. thermally treating non-recyclable waste. Some of the input materials come from the recycling centre itself, for example, residue from the healthcare waste sterilisation facility. The majority, however, is sent to the Lippe Plant from external businesses and ranges from sewage sludge, to filter earths, all the way through to liquid industrial waste. The power station has a variety of facilities, including silos, tanks and underground bunkers, so that it can accept and store the different types of waste before they are transferred for incineration.

Electricity produced from biomass

    • A further integral component of the site’s energy concept is generating electricity at its biomass-fired power plant. Here, too, some of the input material comes from the site’s facilities, including the timber processing plant, the composting plant and the earthworks. Once again, though, the majority of the source material is old non-recyclable wood delivered to the Lippe Plant, such as wood from bulky waste collections. All of the electricity produced by the biomass-fired power plant is fed into the grid and is sufficient to cover the requirements of 40,000 households. The Lippe Plant also has a biogas plant and adjacent combined heat and power units that transform the biogas into electricity. This energy is also fed into the grid. All in all, REMONDIS’ two power stations and its biogas plant supply 222,300 megawatt hours of steam and electricity to external customers every year.

    Incinerating old wood is carbon-neutral – making it a source of green energy.

    A complex energy supply network has been set up throughout the Lippe Plant and this is operated by REMONDIS itself. Top priority is given here to ensuring that there are always sufficient and secure supplies of energy available so that the recycling facilities can always be run as and when required. The electricity network alone consists of a 72-kilometre-long medium-voltage network and a ca. 50-kilometre-long low-voltage network – plus 11 integrated medium-voltage substations, 50 transformers and 63 low-voltage main distributors.

Safety certificate confirms high standards

  • Even though the Lippe Plant is, for the most part, energy self-sufficient, it also needs natural gas – especially when its own power stations have to be shut down so they can be inspected. As is the case with all the networks, the site’s natural gas network is also run by REMONDIS Production. This company, which is responsible for administration and facility management at the recycling centre, receives the natural gas at a transfer station, reduces its pressure to the required operating pressure levels and then directs it through the site’s 5.6-kilometre-long natural gas network to the various facilities.

    REMONDIS has set up a technical safety management system for handling natural gas at the Lippe Plant and this year it had it checked and certified by the DVGW, a recognised standardisation body for the gas and water industry. During their audit, the DVGW experts examined all of the system’s processes as well as the personnel, technical and organisational structures. This showed that all technical rules, statutory regulations and generally recognised codes of practice were being met. Further proof, therefore, of the Lippe Plant’s high quality and safety standards and the perfect implementation of an energy concept that unites resource conservation and climate action with energy security.

    • Heinz Esser, Managing Director of the DVGW’s regional NRW Group, handing over the certificate to Silvio Löderbusch, Managing Director of REMONDIS Production, and Karsten Schwalke, Technical Safety Officer at the company (from left to right)

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