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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

An essential element for all forms of life

Valuable and vital substances can sometimes be found in places where we might not expect to find them: sewage sludge at municipal sewage treatment plants contains large volumes of phosphorus. This element is essential for all forms of life on Earth – for example, for our bone tissue, our teeth and even our DNA. It is vital for energy metabolism in human cells. Plant growth is impossible without it. What’s more, with the world’s population continuously growing, the importance of phosphorus can only increase as it is a central chemical element in food production.

Europe is dependent on imports

  • In nature, this element is found as phosphate and around 260 million tonnes are mined every single year. Not in Europe, however, which is almost fully dependent on imports. Which is why the EU Commission added it to its list of ‘critical raw materials’. Two years before this, the German government had included it in its German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess) and, in 2017, it determined that phosphorus will have to be recovered from sewage sludge in the future.

    Do you know how important phosphorus is for human life? It is vital. Find out why in this video

Successful participation in a Europe-wide tender

REMONDIS Aqua Stoffstrom GmbH & Co. KG has been working with local authorities and water and wastewater associations for decades now and is well-known both in Germany and Germany’s neighbouring countries for its expertise in the field of sewage sludge recycling. From 2021 onwards, the company will be responsible for managing and recycling around 30,000 tonnes of sewage sludge from the sewage treatment plants located in the Rhine-Neckar District.

Cutting-edge technologies

  • This contract was awarded to the company after it submitted the most cost-effective bid during the district’s Europe-wide tender process. “We deploy state-of-the-art technologies, innovative processes and cost-effective concepts to manage and treat sewage sludge,” commented Ralf Czarnecki explaining the company’s approach. “We help to conserve natural resources and ensure important raw materials can be returned to production cycles for reuse. We also believe that there is great potential here to further develop this partnership, which can be extended until 2030.” “Sewage sludge contains large volumes of phosphorus. Recovering this resource from the sludge on a regional and ultimately national basis will help cover local demand for this product and reduce our dependency on imported material,” said Peter Mülbaier, looking ahead into the future. He is the spokesperson for the management team at Rhein-Neckar-Phosphor-Recycling GmbH & Co. KG, the company commissioned to carry out this work. REMONDIS sees this project as a smart blueprint for future sewage sludge recycling operations.

    • Putting their signature to the new partnership: (from left to right) Ralf Czarnecki (Managing Director of REMONDIS Aqua Stoffstrom GmbH & Co.KG), Peter Mülbaier and Thomas Brümmer (Managing Directors of Rhein-Neckar-Phosphor-Recycling GmbH & Co. KG)

Moving towards the future with a cost-effective & resource-friendly system

Phosphorus must be recovered from municipal sewage sludge in Germany from 2029 onwards. This is where the TetraPhos® process comes into play, a system developed and patented by REMONDIS. This physical-chemical process recovers several kinds of marketable secondary raw materials – all of which are permanently available and always of the same high quality. These include the vital substance phosphorus, iron and aluminium salts, which can be used to eliminate phosphates at the sewage treatment plant, and gypsum and minerals for the building supplies industry. Moreover, producing RePacid® cuts carbon emissions by 60% compared to imported phosphoric acid – giving it a very good environmental footprint.

Background information

Natural reserves of phosphate ore can be found in just a few countries: Morocco, China, USA, Algeria, Jordan, Russia and South Africa mine this raw material. Europe is dependent on imports and is facing a growing problem: increasingly, the virgin raw material is contaminated with heavy metals and uranium, which are imported as ‘by-products’.

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