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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

Global environmental protection

Mercury can still be found in many products – particularly outside Germany – and emerging countries are now increasingly taking the disposal of this hazardous liquid heavy metal more seriously. As is the case in Guatemala. Working together with its Guatemalan partner REPELSA, REMONDIS has successfully completed its first project to export mercury-containing waste from this Central American country in collaboration with Blackforest Solutions.

From Central America to Dorsten

The whole project lasted almost two years – from setting up the partnership, to receiving the required notifications, all the way through to exporting the materials to Germany and disposing of them properly at REMONDIS QR’s branch in Dorsten. As a result, activated charcoal and other types of mercury-containing waste from a mine in Guatemala owned by a Canadian mining company were safely disposed of in line with the Minamata Convention.

“We are reliant on REPELSA in this partnership – the company knows the local market and has important business relationships with the customers.”

Martin Pakulat, Commercial Manager at REMONDIS QR

Curbing mercury emissions worldwide

The objective of the Minamata Agreement, which has been in force since 2013, is to protect human health and the environment from this extremely toxic substance as well as to curb mercury emissions and contamination. Its medium-term goal is to permanently eliminate mercury from economic cycles all together. “Thanks to our project, we have moved a step closer to this goal. We are reliant on REPELSA in this partnership – the company knows the local market and has important business relationships with the customers,” explained Martin Pakulat, a commercial manager at REMONDIS QR and the person in charge of this project. By the same token, REPELSA needs a German partner to emphasise its credibility in its own country and the region as a whole so that it is awarded contracts.

Protecting human health & the environment

  • The project, of course, not only benefits the companies but also human health, ecosystems and the fauna and flora. International projects such as this one show emerging nations around the globe that even though they might not have sufficient treatment plants in their own country, it is still possible for them to have their mercury disposed of safely.

    Exporting mercury for disposal? This is how it’s done

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