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  • Dear Readers!

    This editorial was written and ready for print and focused primarily on the EU’s Green Deal. And then coronavirus spread around the world and the text had to be revised. Despite the current situation, though, the Green Deal remains one of the most important projects for the European circular economy. And many other things have happened as well – the question surrounding DSD, for example.

    It is now official. On 22 April 2020, the first Cartel Panel of the Higher Regional Court [Oberlandesgericht] of Düsseldorf dismissed our appeal against the Cartel Office’s decision. Their ruling surprised us as we were sure that we had the better arguments in favour of us acquiring Duales System Deutschland GmbH. But we live under the rule of law and we will, of course, accept their decision. What we need to do now is to take the time required to take a detailed look at the Panel’s reasons for dismissing our appeal and then carefully decide what our next steps should be. In light of the fact that all other major competitors operate in this market, it will be interesting to see to what extent REMONDIS will get involved in the Dual System in the future.

    It is not so easy to look ahead at the moment, though, faced with the current coronavirus emergency. When the first media reports came through on 29 December last year that China had informed the WHO that it had an unexplained cluster of people suffering from an unidentified lung disease, no one realised just how hard or how fast this virus would affect the globalised economy. It is practically impossible to estimate the costs incurred by the economy grounding to a halt as a result of the virus. And it is not just the private sector that has felt the impact. Many city and district authorities were already in financial difficulties before the crisis began. Their situation can only get worse, now that their revenue from local business tax and their takings from their local amenities have plummeted. Maybe it is time to set aside old arguments and enter into long-term partnerships with the private sector that will benefit both parties – especially when it comes to delivering essential public services. Setting up public private joint ventures dedicated to providing essential services could help mitigate the consequences of the crisis. At the end of the day, ‘a load shared is a load halved’. One positive coming from these unprecedented times is the increased sense of solidarity among the population and towards many sections of the economy. REMONDIS, too, is there to help and support its municipal partners – during this crisis more than ever.

    Past pandemics have rarely lasted longer than two years. At some stage – whether with or without a vaccine – public life and business will return to normal. This will be the moment when it will become clear to all that our planet’s biggest problem – climate change – has not solved itself. Once again, the spotlight will be turned on the European Union’s Green Deal. Looking at a list published from within the EU, there is a danger of important regulations being watered down, especially in the area of the circular economy. In contrast, the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, expressly advises against neglecting climate action and environmental protection following the Covid-19 crisis in its ad-hoc statement published on 14 April 2020. In fact, it recommends the exact opposite. The economy must be kick-started so that it can grow again and should, it says, be “guided more firmly than before by considerations of sustainability, not least because this offers vast potential for economic growth.” Climate change is and will continue to be the biggest challenge for the future and REMONDIS, being one of the leading water and recycling businesses, will continue to put forward its solutions and play an important role.

    With this in mind: stay safe and stay positive.

    Thomas Conzendorf

Modernised biogas filling station

  • Following the official opening of the modernised biogas filling station owned by the energy provider GVG in Hürth, REMONDIS is now looking to increase the number of its vehicles run on carbon-neutral biomethane in the Rhein-Erft District – and across the whole of the Rhineland region – in the future.

Tests confirm: suitable for everyday use

GVG opened the first ever natural gas filling station for cars for public use in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) back in 1995. This regional gas provider has now retrofitted this filling station so that larger vehicles in the region can also fill up their tanks with biogas. Working closely with REMONDIS, GVG Rhein-Erft has spent the last 18 months implementing and optimising this showcase project. A total of six refuse collection vehicles were used to test this green fuel to see how suitable it is for everyday use, how far they could travel on a full tank and how much time was needed to actually fill the vehicles. “This phase has now been completed and we’re ready to convert all our short-haul routes to carbon-neutral biomethane – from waste collection to heavy transport,” Werner Abromeit, managing director of GVG Rhein-Erft, announced during the opening.

130 cars or 20 lorries a day – green light from the politicians

  • Following the conversion work, the natural gas filling station now has two compressors (which compress the gas from the gas network), two storage tanks (each able to hold 6,000 litres) and two fuel pumps that can be used by both cars and lorries. Up to 130 cars or 20 trucks can fill up their tanks here every day. During the official opening ceremony, Klaus Voussem, traffic spokesperson for the CDU party in NRW’s state parliament, praised this new development saying: “Using gas-run vehicles sends a strong signal as it demonstrates how we can remain mobile and still combat climate change. Gas-run buses and lorries are no longer dreams of the future – they are here on our streets and are part of our everyday lives,” he stressed, saying he hoped that this project would be copied across the country.

    REMONDIS driver Markus Röder shows how the pumps are used at GVG’s filling station in Hürth

Walking the talk

  • “We have to take action now to curb climate change. We can’t keep waiting for alternative fuels – such as e-mobility – to become suitable for our sector,” said Reinhard Hohenstein, managing director of REMONDIS Rhineland. “If you nail the strapline 'Working for the future' to your mast, then it is your duty to drive forward measures to protect the environment and curb climate change – and to see how carbon emissions can be cut as quickly as possible,” Hohenstein continued. What better way to do this then than to use the biomethane produced from recycling organic waste as a fuel for the company’s own vehicles? Reinhard Hohenstein was very pleased with how quickly the trials were carried out and is determined to use biomethane in the Rhineland from now on: REMONDIS is planning to have a further 60 such trucks on the roads by 2021 and further trials are already being performed in two major cities, namely Cologne and Düsseldorf.

Background Information

  • Biomethane has proven to be a great alternative fuel for trucks as it produces 90% fewer carbon emissions and 60% fewer nitrogen oxides compared to diesel-run vehicles. What’s more, biomethane vehicles are up to 5 decibels quieter than conventional waste collection trucks. The last point is not only good for the local residents but also means improved working conditions for the drivers.

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