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  • Dear Readers!

    Many people in Europe could hardly believe the news when they woke up on 24 June to discover a slim majority of Britons had voted in favour of Brexit. Leading economists, politicians, business people, artists and scientists had repeatedly called for the UK to remain in the EU so that the problems of globalisation could be tackled together as one strong community. Their words were in vain; the majority of Britons decided that the best way forward was to take a step back towards the sup­posedly good old days of 'splendid isolation'. No-one at that time, however, could have anticipated that this was just a precursor of an even bigger political earthquake. On 08.11. American voters elected Donald Trump to be their next president. Never before had the country experienced such a populist movement and his comments do not bode well either for the global economy or for a peaceful co-existence between nations. Only time will tell whether or to what extent President Trump will try and change global economic and political structures. Only then will we be able to see what impact this will all have on Europe. However, no matter how much the new President tries to deny the very existence of climate change, there is one thing that is clear right now: the world’s population will continue to grow and the challenges of meeting people’s needs and tackling the planet’s environmental problems will not become easier in the future. Our recommendation to Donald Trump, therefore, would be to take a look at the country of his ancestors – at Germany, where solutions are already being developed to create a sustainable supply of raw materials for the future.  

    Over 40 years ago, when the recycling sector was just beginning to find its feet in Germany (thanks also to the many contributions made by REMONDIS), there were approx. 3.5 billion people living on our planet. At that time, recycling was considered by many to be nothing more than a bit of a gimmick. The world had enough raw materials and plenty of space for storing waste – so why do more than we have to? The human race needed just under 100,000 years to reach 3.5 billion people. This figure has doubled within just 40 years! By 2050, it is expected to rise to 10 billion. The so-called Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year, was even earlier this year: on 08 August. Since then, we have effectively been living as if we have a second planet to fall back on.

    The recycling sector already offers solutions to these problems at a number of different levels: supplying raw materials, generating energy, protecting water supplies and the environment, curbing global warming and even taking on social responsibilities. 14% of the raw materials used in Germany are supplied by the recycling industry, an important step to separating economic growth and the consumption of natural resources from one another. If our production processes are to be sustainable and affordable in the future, then all products and raw materials must be recovered and reused. For this to be possible, however, politicians around the world must drive this development and introduce ambitious laws to ensure it happens. We need higher recycling targets and mandatory ecodesign guidelines that force manufacturers to design their products so that they can be fully recycled once they reach the end of their useful life.

    Recycling would be become mandatory in a future where all raw materials and products – no matter whether it be a smartphone, car or plane – must be designed in line with ecological criteria. Children working in mines in third world countries would be a thing of the past. Wars would no longer be fought to gain access to natural resources. Innovative processes would mean that our wastewater could be used to produce clean drinking water and as a source of phosphorus for fertilisers, building supplies and energy. Collecting and recycling organic waste around the globe and turning it into high quality compost or using it to generate renewable energy would, for the most part, solve the problem of climate change – and also provide great prospects for growth.

    With this optimistic look into the future, may I wish you and your families a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

    Ludger Rethmann

Leading by example

Look back just a few years and Russia was considered to be one of the most attractive and fastest-growing emerging markets. Much has changed since then. The framework conditions have become more difficult and there is a general feeling of uncertainty as to how the country’s economy will develop as a whole. REMONDIS is responding to these challenges in three different ways: by focusing more on specific areas, by concentrating on finding solutions that can act as role models for the rest of the market and by holding frank and open discussions with its partners.

Showcase projects in a number of regions

  • REMONDIS entered the Russian market back in 2008 and had already consolidated and stabilised its activities there by 2014. Today, its focus is on its operations in Dzerzhinsk and Saransk. REMONDIS’ objective in both towns is to ensure waste is segregated and collected separately as well as to drive forward recycling activities. This strategy has led to the company playing a pioneering role when it comes to sustainable development – especially in Saransk. Other business plans include investing in state-of-the-art collection logistics for the region of Mordovia where many districts still have no access to any type of collection scheme at all. The company is also looking into the possibility of setting up a recycling plant there.

    Swetlana Bigesse, General Manager of OOO REMONDIS (Russia)

    Hendrik Vonnegut, Managing Director of REMONDIS International

A need for entrepreneurial responsibility

  • The fact that market prospects have improved again is certainly one of the reasons why the company is expecting to remain committed to the Russian market over the medium to long term. Economic arguments are not enough on their own however. What is of primary importance is having reliable and resilient partnerships on the ground and being able to help Russia become more sustainable. At the end of the day, preventing climate change and conserving natural resources are global issues that do not stop at a country’s border.

    One of the Russian government’s current goals is to increase recycling rates around the country. Since 2015, therefore, it has been working on drawing up new regulations to drive recycling. These should, for example, encourage investments in new plants via long-term concession agreements, which should set out the prerequisites for running a cost-efficient business. Plans are also to introduce the principle of producer responsibility, especially for used sales packaging. Obligatory recycling targets are expected to be introduced in 2017 for most types of packaging.

    At the 9th German-Russian Raw Materials Conference in Düsseldorf: Vsevolod Levin, President of ZAO “Russian Copper Company”, Hendrik Vonnegut, Managing Director of REMONDIS International, Prof. Klaus Töpfer, former Federal Minister, and Prof. Valerij Jasew, President of the Association of Mining Industrialists in the Russian Federation (from left to right)

Discussions on climate change & resource conservation

One particular feature of REMONDIS’ work in Russia is holding regular discussions with its partners. Its objective here is to keep the dialogue going irrespective of geopolitical developments – in order to exchange know-how and experiences and so help conserve resources and prevent climate change. With this goal in mind, Russian delegations are invited regularly to visit REMONDIS’ locations in Russia and Germany.

Just recently, Russia has looked to intensify talks with its European partners – leading to two important events being held in November alone. The 9th German-Russian Raw Materials Conference – whose theme this year was 'The raw materials business and its responsibility towards the climate and the environment' – was attended by both Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel and the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Arkady Dvorkovich. It provided the perfect venue for discussing important issues and examining potential bilateral collaboration projects. The programme of events also included a visit to REMONDIS’ Lippe Plant.

Moreover, a fact-finding tour was organised for Russian opinion leaders and decision-makers working within the waste management industry on behalf of the ‘BMWi’ (Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy). The event took place at the end of November and also saw the Russian delegation visiting REMONDIS’ Lippe Plant.

Russia has officially declared 2017 to be the “Year of Ecology”. New laws aim to drive sustainable development across the country.

The recession would appear to be over

  • Following the slump experienced by Russia last year, there are now an increasing number of signs signalling that the Russian economy is slowly recovering. The Russian Ministry for Economic Affairs is expecting the country’s gross domestic product to increase slightly in 2017. At the same time, international investors are returning to the market: according to the Bundesbank [German Central Bank], direct German investment in the Russian Federation amounted to 1.73 billion euros during the first six months of 2016. It had, therefore, almost reached the total amount invested in 2015 (1.78 billion euros). Russia would appear to be back – good news for both bilateral business relationships and for the efforts being made by the international community to tackle global warming and protect the environment.

    REMONDIS is helping to drive recycling in the regions around the cities of Saransk and Dzerzhinsk, e.g. by investing in state-of-the-art collection logistics

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