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  • Dear Readers!

    Once again another successful year is drawing to a close for our family-run company. This sentence, or one similar, can be read really quite often. In our case, a look back at the editorial of our 2018 Christmas issue might bring on a smile. Exactly one year ago, we spoke of the great business opportunities in both the recycling industry and the transport sector. At the time, we wrote in our editorial: “We have been able to make the most of these opportunities by taking steps to acquire DSD – Duales System Deutschland GmbH (and to purchase shares in Transdev). Both transactions must still be approved by the relevant authorities.”

    As we know today, twelve months on, the acquisition of shares in the Transdev Group worked out perfectly while the other – DSD – has, at least for the time being, been blocked by the German monopolies commission. Having assessed the packaging recycling market last year, we believed that DSD did not have a dominant market position – something that has been further underlined by the latest developments. The customer structure within the Dual System has changed dramatically since the Schwarz Group became, practically overnight, one of the five largest recycling companies after taking over Tönsmeier and expanding into the packaging market with its renamed firm, PreZero. REWE, one of the three biggest distributors of sales packaging in Germany, has changed its Dual System provider and moved to Reclay. And, on 19 November, a press release was published in the media that Aldi has also changed its provider and is now licensing its packaging with Interseroh instead of DSD. It will be interesting to see if and to what extent these latest developments will impact on the Regional Appeal Court’s ruling.

    Looking at the world of politics, 2019 has ended with the German government bringing out a concrete climate action package. The recycling industry, which has played a major – if not decisive – role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions since the introduction of the TaSi [Technical Directive on the Recycling, Treatment and Disposal of Municipal Waste] in 2005, is rubbing its eyes in disbelief having read the 22 pages. A mere 16 lines have been devoted to our industry. Perhaps they are already simply taking the positive impact we have on tackling climate change for granted? It is probably more likely that they continue to underestimate the potential of recycling to combat climate change. And there is still so much unused potential. Were the substitution rate, i.e. the share of recycled raw materials used in industrial production processes, to be doubled from the current 15% to 30%, then this alone would lead to emissions of CO2 equivalents being cut by around 60 million tonnes. The fact remains that comprehensive recycling measures will enable the climate goals to be met. Indeed, REMONDIS shows that this is possible every single day.

    With this optimistic outlook, I would like to thank you all for your great support and collaboration over the last twelve months. We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and successful 2020.

    Yours Ludger Rethmann

There is room for more

Whenever discussions are held in Germany about recycling, they are always limited to how much of the material at the beginning of the chain is passed on for recycling, whichever type of processing this may be. At no point, however, have steps been taken to determine to what extent the recycled raw materials are then actually fed back into production cycles. At present, approx. 15% of the total demand for raw materials in Germany is covered by recycled raw materials. With the global consumption of raw materials continuing to steadily grow, it goes without saying that this figure is too low. What is the best way then to encourage the use of recycled raw materials?

Minimum rates would help

The KRU [Resources Commission at the German Environment Agency] recommends that a minimum substitution rate for the use of recycled raw materials should be introduced for manufacturers and industrial businesses to achieve just that. Such a rate would provide a realistic benchmark to measure the success of recycling systems, as it would give a clearer picture of the ratio between the use of recycled raw materials and overall demand for raw materials. What’s more, this would create an incentive to deploy more recycled raw materials, which, in turn, would benefit the climate and help conserve natural resources. The current system of limiting minimum recycling rates to volumes of input and output only shows one side of the story and does not influence in any way how many of these materials are actually used in production processes.

  • of CO2-eq emissions would, experts estimate, be cut if the German industry were to double the volume of recycled raw materials used in their production processes from 15% to 30%

A step-by-step approach

By introducing a minimum substitution rate, it would be possible to measure the exact volumes of recycled material that find their way back into products. The Resources Commission recommends that such a minimum rate should initially be set at national level and for individual materials and elements. Over the medium to long term, it would then be good to see a detailed breakdown across different industries and for specific product groups. Furthermore, such a substitution rate could deliver information about which primary materials and which functions have been substituted, helping to ascertain the quality of the recycling systems.

Call for minimum recycled content

A further important recommendation made by the Commission is the introduction of minimum recycled content in individual products. In its position paper, the KRU argues that transparent and ambitious recycling standards should be set that go beyond the current minimum waste-related recycling rates. The first step would be to clarify whether concrete minimum recycled content targets can be set for certain product groups. It would certainly be good for tackling climate change. Experts estimate that emissions of CO2 equivalents would be cut by around 60 million tonnes if the German industry were to double the volume of recycled raw materials used in their production processes from the current 15% to 30%.

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