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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

Surface technology tasks

  • Disused mines, idle furnaces, decommissioned gasometers: historical industrial plants are much more than just relicts from the past. Renovated and retrofitted for new tasks, they can be turned into sites that are fit for the future. XERVON is helping to bring about this conversion work, particularly by making the most of its surface technology expertise. The services required are similar to the company’s wide-ranging portfolio and yet in many ways very different – renovating industrial monuments has its own set of rules.

From industrial to cultural work

The Ruhr region is undergoing a structural change. Areas that used to be dominated by coal, coke and steel are gradually turning to services and tourism. And more often than not, it is the industrial sites from the past that have been providing the momentum for this transformation. They have been given a breath of new life and help make the region even more attractive – as museums, event locations, business start-ups and much, much more. Before this change of use can be brought about, however, they must first be renovated. A task for XERVON, as professional corrosion protection, specialty coatings and concrete repair work are all really important to shield monuments from the ravages of time.

“Industrial monuments bring the region’s history to life. Maintaining them and making them fit for the future is a project that is close to our hearts.”

Frank Dörnemann, Managing Director XERVON Oberflächentechnik GmbH

Jet blasting work with skill and finesse

Practically all historical industrial buildings have constructions made of iron and steel. If these are to be protected long term, then the surfaces – many of which are beginning to look the worse for wear – have to undergo extensive preparation work. A balancing act as, unlike projects involving modern plants, people often want to see signs of ageing on these monuments. In other words, this means using today’s expertise on the surface of the building while ensuring it retains a certain historical appearance. Both finesse and know-how are needed, therefore, to carry out the jet blasting work and to choose the right blasting material. What’s more, experience in handling contaminated substances is imperative here because the old coats on the metal – which may be decades or even centuries old – are often considered hazardous according to today’s standards.

  • The Zeche Zollverein in Essen welcomes around 1.5 million guests a year

High-tech with a historical appearance

This is all true for the next stage of the work: the coating of the surfaces. On the one hand, the coat should provide the protection needed but, on the other, it shouldn’t look too new. XERVON’s surface technology specialists use both standard systems and bespoke solutions to bridge this gap. Indeed, their first step is to draw up a detailed coating concept so that the application of the coat meets the exact requirements – regarding both its function and the way it looks. Besides working on metal constructions, XERVON also carries out repair work on concrete structures. Damaged areas are removed and replaced and the outer walls of the buildings are carefully sealed. In many cases, the company is requested to deliver its whole range of services for a project – as is the case at the old colliery, Zeche Sophia-Jacoba, in Hückelhoven. Today this mine offers its visitors guided tours and XERVON is currently renovating the timber-framed machine building and the striking headgear above Shaft 3.

Keeping the visitors in mind

Besides having to focus on the professional and technical aspects of these projects, the company must also take into account that such industrial monuments are also public spaces that attract many visitors. This is true for both the results at the end of the project and how the actual renovation work is carried out. The Zeche Zollverein, for example, (an old colliery in Essen) welcomes around 1.5 million guests a year. XERVON’s job here is to renovate a historical bridge conveyor – a task that will take several months to complete. To be able to do this, they are gradually erecting an enclosed, fully dustproof scaffold structure around the bridge conveyor, section for section – to keep the visitors safe as well as to keep as much of the plant open as possible. More than 3,500 structures are listed as protected industrial monuments in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia alone. A wide range of buildings and an industrial heritage that are perfect for uniting the past, present and future.

DEEP in the west: four recent Ruhr region projects

    • A UNESCO World Heritage Site
      Zeche Zollverein in Essen: previously one of the most productive coalmines in the world, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, XERVON is in the process of applying a modern coating system to a bunker (used in the past to store backfill material) and a 100m-long historical bridge conveyor.

    • Mining museum
      XERVON is renovating the machine building at Zeche Sophia-Jacoba, an old colliery in Hückelhoven, that now offers guided tours. Moreover, it is also using wet and dry blasting technology and applying three layers of coating to the 48m-high headgear and its rope sheaves to make them fit for the future.

    • The steel giant
      XERVON can also be found at the sites that used to process ‘black gold’. Its job here: to jet blast, repair and recoat the platforms around the outside of this 77m-high gasometer in Dortmund – one of the stops along the Route of Industrial Heritage.

    • A European masterpiece
      Renovation work began on the gasometer in Oberhausen in the autumn of 2019. This site is a monument of international importance and has already housed many spectacular exhibitions. XERVON is recoating the stairs that run up around the outside of the gas tank. Right next door, in fact – in the company’s jet blasting building in Duisburg.

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