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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

Services for the public and private sectors

  • The largest sewage treatment plant in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern celebrated its birthday on 09 September. EURAWASSER had handed over the extended sewage treatment plant to the Warnow Water and Wastewater Association (WWAV) 20 years before on the exact same day – enabling Rostock to treat wastewater properly for the very first time in its history. Today, the sewage treatment plant provides a reliable service treating the wastewater generated by those living and working in Rostock as well as from 12 neighbouring districts. The Warnow Water and Wastewater Association and EURAWASSER organised an event to celebrate this occasion which included a book launch and an Open Day for all those interested.

Treating wastewater is a complex business

  • History was made when the central sewage treatment plant opened in Rostock – the city was able to treat its wastewater properly for the very first time

  • “Everyone expects to be able to discharge their used water into the sewer system – they simply take it for granted. Very few of them realise, however, just what a complex process it is to treat their wastewater,” commented Ines Gründel, chairwoman of the Warnow Water and Wastewater Association. Situated in Bramow an der Unterwarnow, just a few kilometres from the Baltic Sea, the sewage treatment plant has to be extremely careful about the way it cleans the water. To be able to fulfil its responsibilities, the plant was extended and commissioned in September 1996.

The plant is continuously being further developed

  • EURAWASSER rebuilt the old sewage treatment plant with its single mechanical cleaning stage transforming it into one the most modern sewage treatment plants in Germany – a project that cost a total of 82 million euros. One of the biggest challenges here was to ensure the plant adhered to the strict discharge values set out by the Helsinki Convention (HELCOM). Thanks to the extension work carried out at the sewage treatment plant, pollution levels in the River Warnow were reduced by 95%. Whilst the plant has delivered the same high wastewater treatment performance since then, EURAWASSER has continued to further develop the sewage treatment plant over the years, especially to optimise its energy consumption. The managing director of EURAWASSER Nord GmbH, Robert Ristow, pointed out how the plant has always met the strict discharge values set by the authorities.

    EURAWASSER rebuilt the old sewage treatment plant with its single mechanical cleaning stage transforming it into one the most modern sewage treatment plants in Germany – a project that cost a total of 82 million euros.

    “Documents are on hand to certify the excellent quality of the discharged water and the improved energy consumption levels. EURAWASSER will continue to observe the latest developments to see whether they can be adopted to further improve the plant’s performance. A further 10 million euros have been invested in the plant since it was extended to optimise work processes and technology.”

  • “A further 10 million euros have been invested in the plant since it was extended to optimise work processes and technology.”

    Robert Ristow, Managing Director of EURAWASSER Nord GmbH

A party and a book launch

  • The Warnow Water and Wastewater Association had a surprise for this special occasion. Reinhard Lübker, former long-standing managing director of the association, had written a book relating the history of wastewater treatment in and around Rostock. Entitled “Alles fließt. Aber wohin?” [It all keeps flowing but where does it go?], the author has made the most of his four decades of experience of working in the water industry to look back at the wastewater sector, which also includes an account of the eventful history of the central sewage treatment plant. This fascinating book was published by Redieck & Schade, a publishing house based in Rostock. All those interested were invited to attend the Open Day to enable them to find out more about the work of the central sewage treatment plant. The largest sewage treatment plant in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern opened its doors to the public and organised an entertaining programme for all those present.

    EURAWASSER and the WWAV celebrated this special occasion by organising an Open Day at the central sewage treatment plant

Something for everyone

Besides putting on some fun events for young and old, EURAWASSER and WWAV explained how the state-of-the-art and complex technology actually worked. Other highlights included tours of the plant, a panoramic view of the area from the platform of a crane 50 metres up in the air, the chance to look inside the company’s special vehicles, games and surprises for the children as well as music, shows and a selection of talks.

  • A video of the Open Day (German only)

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