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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

A valuable raw material

Very few people are aware that sand is not simply sand and that we do not have endless supplies of this material. Singapore is currently looking at ways to use processed incineration bottom ash (IBA) in construction materials instead of gravel and sand. The country’s National Environment Agency (NEA) has commissioned field trials to be carried out, which also involve REMEX Mineralstoff’s Singapore subsidiary.

Stringent structural requirements

The main difficulty of this project is producing a material that meets the necessary structural requirements and fulfils the very stringent limit values regarding pollutant content. These are much stricter than German and European standards, as two-thirds of Singapore’s surface area are a water catchment area. The IBA being used for the field trials comes from REMEX’s plant in Singapore, which was officially opened by the country’s Environment Minister Masagos Zulkifli in 2015. The facility, which is located in Singapore’s Tuas district, currently processes around 550,000 tonnes of IBA a year – material that is produced by Singapore’s five household waste incineration plants. Both the ferrous metal and valuable non-ferrous metals, such as aluminium and copper, are first removed from the IBA for recycling.

IBA from Singapore is processed at REMEX’s plant in the district of Tuas.

The mineral fraction is the largest volume of material left over at the end of the process and this is currently being sent to landfill. This situation, however, should change in the near future to further protect the environment. This project also involves REMEX collaborating closely with its Dutch subsidiary HEROS Sluiskil B.V., which is further processing the ash in its facilities before it is used in the field trials in Singapore.

NEWSand: a step closer to a zero waste nation

  • The goal of the Singapore Ministry of the Environment is for the NEWSand initiative to enable the unrestricted use of recycled IBA as a construction material. This would help the Government to meet its target of landfilling 30% less waste a year, from 2030 onwards, in order to extend the lifespan of Singapore’s only landfill beyond 2035. This project highlights REMEX’s expertise in supplying recycled raw materials for road construction work and earthworks projects and will help Singapore on its way to becoming a zero waste nation.

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