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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

Hazardous waste in safe hands

  • “Hazardous waste is waste we want nothing to do with,” says the one group. “Handling hazardous waste is what makes our work so interesting,” says the other. In this case, ‘the other’ is the team of employees at REMONDIS’ business in Bramsche, the company’s central location for dealing with waste classified as particularly hazardous. The Bramsche Industrial Recycling Centre is one of the leading plants across the whole of Europe for recycling industrial waste. 600 different types of industrial waste can be treated there – whether it be solid, semi-solid, liquid or gaseous, whether it pose a minor or a major risk.

Prevention is the ultimate goal

Stringent safety standards must be in place when dealing with explosive, inflammable and toxic materials on a daily basis. Prevention is the ultimate goal here. Samples are taken before any waste is treated so they can be tested in the on-site laboratory to identify the exact properties of the material. The treatment processes in the various plants may not begin until this has been completed – with all stages being continuously monitored by technical safety systems. The site is also home to a high stack storage area made inert with nitrogen and a secure gas storage facility to eliminate any risks whilst the waste is being stored before treatment. Special biofilters and a range of systems to protect the soil and water networks ensure the environment is never put at risk either. Moreover, the plant has its own fire brigade and a full range of fire and rescue equipment to guarantee the highest standards of safety are met at all times.

High performance conditioning facilities are needed to recycle hazardous waste safely. Such technology cuts up the material, homogenises it and mixes it – all in fully separate processes. Materials that are particularly problematic are treated in areas that have been made inert with nitrogen. This is certainly one of the more challenging areas of the recycling sector and specialist knowledge is vital. Many of the 150 people working at the centre in Bramsche – such as the chemical laboratory assistants – have been trained by the company itself. “By taking on and training our own apprentices, we can ensure that we continue to offer safe and top quality services,” explained branch manager, Christian Deing.

Four specialist divisions

    The Bramsche Industrial Recycling Centre is well-known across Europe for the expert way it recycles hazardous materials. It also shows how REMONDIS is able to recover practically every type of substance and return them to production cycles

    Over the years, Bramsche has also developed and set up four specialist divisions known as RESPRAY, RENOX, RENOTHERM and RENOMETALL. No matter what the work, priority is always put on recycling the waste – as, at REMONDIS, the treatment of hazardous materials is always designed so that they can be returned to the economic cycle, whenever possible, after they have been made safe.

    RENOX specialises in transporting special chemicals, in treating them in chemical-physical facilities or disposing of them safely using direct incineration systems. One of the special features of the Bramsche Industrial Recycling Centre is its high temperature incineration plant that is even able to incinerate reactive and toxic chemicals and mixed materials as it reaches temperatures of over 1,100°C.

Turning old into new

REMONDIS Industrie Service markets a high quality fuel produced from industrial waste which is sold under its RENOTHERM brand name. Using processes developed by the company itself, substances, such as old paints or adhesives, are screened, treated using complex procedures and then transformed into RDF fuel with a guaranteed calorific value. Such fuels help to sustainably conserve our planet’s natural reserves of coal, gas and oil.

Metals such as tinplate and aluminium – which also leave the new HAZPAK aerosol can recycling facility compacted into briquettes – are recovered and returned to the metal processing industry under the RENOMETALL name.

Each year, 80,000 tonnes of hazardous materials are recycled in Bramsche so that they can be returned to production cycles as raw materials. Thanks to this centre, therefore, waste that poses a risk to the environment can also be used to conserve our planet’s natural resources. 

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