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  • Dear Readers!

    Everyone’s greatest wish at the moment is for life to return to normal. So let us take a look at the positive things that have happened. And there have been a great deal of them, many of which can be put down to the very good collaboration with you – our partners, friends and employees. As the year draws to a close, it is traditionally a time to take stock of the last twelve months and happily 2020 was not as bad as may have been expected considering the overall situation. At the same time, we can look ahead to 2021 with hope and optimism.

    One example is our return to the Dual System, the scheme in Germany for managing old sales packaging. Maybe some of you may remember when we withdrew our own Dual System, EKO-PUNKT, from the market in the summer of 2014 as it had become impossible to predict the legal and business risks at the time. But then the Packaging Law came into force – finally putting an end to the infinite number of amendments that were being made to the old Packaging Ordinance. Which means that the necessary framework conditions are now in place for us to return to the Dual System market. Following its first attempt (the acquisition of DSD which was unfortunately turned down by the monopolies commission), REMONDIS has now purchased RK, a Dual System that owns a full set of valid licences but, as yet, has no share of the market. Ideal conditions for us to play a role in this market again – something that is as natural for a recycling firm to do as it is for Father Christmas to wear a red hat. And so RK will become the new EKO-PUNKT Dual System. In the style of that famous film from the 80s, we’re going “Back to the future!”

    Christmas is also a time where we may traditionally make a wish. The European Commission and the German government wish to have so-called green steel, i.e. steel that is produced without fossil fuels and so emits as little CO2 as possible. Focus is being put here on “green hydrogen” as a potential climate-neutral source of energy. As with so many wishes, however, the first question is where should this green energy come from? And, above all, who should pay for it? Leaving aside the fact that there is as yet no official definition for green steel, the chances of there being sufficient supplies of green hydrogen available on the market any time soon would appear to be slim with the development towards renewable electricity generation moving so slowly. And yet, this sought-after green steel has been around for ages. It is produced from high quality scrap steel, over eight million tonnes of which is recovered and returned to production cycles by TSR using a process that is for the most part climate neutral – without having to consume land, without having to use additional resources and without having to needlessly transport material half way around the globe. Sounds almost like Christmas, but it’s true.

    Against the backdrop of all this good news, we would like to thank you all for the great collaboration work. May we take this opportunity to wish you a happy Christmas and all the very best for the coming year.

    Yours

    Thomas Conzendorf

Keeping an eye on the latest trends & developments

  • The “2020 Status Report on the German Circular Economy”, which was published recently by Prognos and the INFA Institute, is probably the most comprehensive account of the trends, developments, stakeholders and infrastructure of the circular economy in Germany currently available. The report clearly shows how the circular economy continues to be a dynamically growing industry with a strong future.

An overview of the development of the economic indicators in the circular economy

The circular economy: one of the heavyweights

The continuously growing demands on recycling, the increasing standards regarding the production of secondary raw materials and the technical innovations resulting from this have all led to a positive development over the last few years: the sector had a turnover of around 84.1 billion euros in 2017 (+18% compared to 2010) and employed over 310,000 people in 2019 (+12% compared to 2010). Today, the German circular economy employs almost the same number of people as the energy industry. With a gross added value of around 28.1 billion euros in 2017 (+31% compared to 2010), the sector is one of the heavyweights.

  • The turnover generated by the sector in 2017 (+18% compared to 2010)

More than simply managing and collecting waste

The circular economy comprises far more than simply managing and collecting waste; analyses in the status report reveal just how important upstream and downstream technologies and trade are for the circular economy as well. Of the approx. 10,700 companies working in this industry, ca. 6,100 firms focus on refuse collection and transport, street cleaning and waste treatment and recycling. Just under 1,300 companies concentrate on waste management technology and a further 3,300 businesses trade in old materials. On average, each employee in the circular economy generated a turnover of €285,000 and a gross added value of €95,000 in 2017.

  • The number of people employed by the sector in 2019 (+12% compared to 2010)

International influence

The international dimensions of the industry are particularly significant: for many years now, it has been an important player in the field of international trade – selling plant technology, machinery and secondary raw materials. For a while now, German legislation has been driving technological innovations, creating a solid base for today’s successful exports. The subsector “waste management technology” alone generated exports worth 5.1 billion euros in 2018.

Future activities

Over the coming years, the circular economy will play an ever more important role in areas that will be key for the future: resource conservation and climate action. It is inevitable, therefore, that the industry will continue to expand and its value increase. The supplies of natural resources available to us are limited – which is why it is essential that they are protected and conserved. Politicians are looking to dramatically reduce consumption of these materials and gradually decouple the use of primary raw materials from population growth and economic growth. Further increasing the volumes of secondary raw materials that are returned to production cycles will be key here. This objective is also reflected in the German government’s Raw Materials Strategy, which was published in December 2019.

The circular economy: a holistic industry

  • The circular economy takes recycling a step further: besides bringing about a change in consumption and usage habits and achieving sustainable production activities, it also focuses on making it easier to recover resources by having products with a smart design. The ambitious goals of the circular economy, however, cannot only be reached by reducing volumes of waste. High quality recycling is also a must. What’s more, measures must be undertaken to ensure that there is a growing demand for the increasing volumes of recyclates.

Helping to tackle climate change

    • The contribution that the circular economy is making to tackling climate change is already impressive: according to the national greenhouse gas inventory, the emissions generated by the waste management sector have fallen by 75% since 1990, from 38 million tonnes of CO2 to just under 10 million tonnes of CO2 in 2018. A further 50 million tonnes of CO2 are avoided every year thanks to recycling and the use of secondary raw materials. More recycling in the future would further grow the industry’s efforts to curb climate change. And the circular economy has a number of other cards up its sleeve: increasing energy efficiency, substituting primary fuels, generating electricity, district heat and process heat in waste to energy plants are just a few examples of how the sector will continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

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