There are so many different facets to sustainability – especially at a company such as ours that works each and every day to conserve our planet's natural resources and curb global warming. Why not take a trip around our 'World of Sustainability' to find out more?!
The whole notion of sustainability will be a lost cause unless we take action here and now to conserve our planet's natural resources. Future generations and today's developing countries will only be able to enjoy prosperous lives if steps are taken right now to counteract the growing shortages of raw materials. For us – being one of the world's leading recycling, service and water companies – there can be only one goal: to tackle this problem and lead by example. Why not join us on this path?!
'Recycling rather than disposal'. This is a principle that we never fail to follow – doing everything in our power to close product life cycles so that fewer raw materials need to be mined and processed using energy-intensive machinery. A principle we follow with the highest levels of commitment and always with state-of-the-art technologies. Recycling is far too important for us to sit back and be satisfied with what has been achieved so far.
Our planet’s raw materials are finite. And yet we still treat them as if they will last forever. A mere 14% of the raw materials needed in Germany are supplied by the recycling sector. And this despite the fact that recycled raw materials are not only of the same high quality but also better for our climate and carbon footprint.
The Lippe Plant in Lünen is not only a high tech site, it is also an important project for combatting global warming. The various activities carried out at the site help to cut carbon emissions by 466,000t every single year. For a forest to have the same effect, it would need to contain 37 million trees. Certainly a lovely place to take a walk in but perhaps not an ideal place for creating 1,400 jobs.
If anyone knows how the Green Deal works, then it is us. This can be seen not only by the innovative ways we produce recycled raw materials and renewable energies, but also by our many efforts to combat climate change. A good example of this is the ban on landfills here in Germany, which was initiated by us. We have been calling for such a ban to be adopted across the whole of Europe for many years now. This would lead to GHG emissions in one of the four biggest industrial sectors falling by 67% in one fell sweep.
According to the UN, access to clean water is a basic human right. Looking at the bare facts, however, 748 million people around the world are still taking their drinking water from polluted sources. What can local companies do to help here? A great deal – as can be seen by REMONDIS’ international projects.
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for all living organisms on Earth. There is, therefore, a great demand for this substance. Huge volumes of phosphorus are needed in Europe alone every single year – as a source material for products such as fertilisers and animal feed. The search is on, therefore, for innovations that are up to the challenge of recovering this substance.
People searching for an argument in favour of plastics recycling need look no further than at our seas and oceans. Vast areas of waste are floating around in them and are so big that they can even be seen from space. This problem, however, can only be solved on Earth – with more responsible consumer behaviour and systematic plastics recycling.
Unfortunately memories are not the only things left behind by brownfield sites. Such land is often highly contaminated. Every year, our company REMEX ProTerra handles, processes and treats 1.7 million tonnes of soil in order to reclaim land.
Disposable nappies are a real problem as far as sustainability is concerned. For the most part, they go from the changing mat straight into the residual waste bin – and from there to the incineration plant. This is most certainly not eco-friendly. And does absolutely nothing to conserve natural resources. The answer to this problem is to recycle them.
Dangerous substances are part of our everyday life. Empty batteries, for example, contain harmful mercury and must be recycled using special processes. REMONDIS is the right place to turn to here as well. We have access to state-of-the-art technologies for treating hazardous waste – including systems for recycling mercury.
Every year, REMONDIS’ Lippe Plant generates 336,900 MWh of carbon-neutral energy from incinerating waste – energy, therefore, that is produced without any fossil fuels. Moreover, we are constantly working on developing new ways to produce green electricity and heat.
Talking the talk but not walking the walk? Not at REMONDIS. It goes without saying that our all-encompassing view of sustainability also includes us being sustainable ourselves. This covers all aspects of our business – from the energy efficiency levels of our head office buildings, all the way through to ensuring that all our locations adhere to our high social standards, no matter where in the world they may be.
Every company tries to make a profit. And things are no different at REMONDIS either. For us, however, money is always a means to a good end – which is why a large part of the profits we make is invested in developing new and innovative recycling processes and technologies. Helping to preserve our planet’s valuable natural resources.
An ever growing number of employees are looking to find a job that allows them to do work that is both meaningful and sustainable. That’s exactly what they’ll find at our company – no matter what their qualifications or level of education may be. As far as we are concerned, our motto “Working for the future” also means making it possible for people to have a future.
Ergonomic workstation assessments are carried out at regular intervals to ensure our workstations are safe and healthy places. Moreover we have stringent safety standards in place so that our workforce remains healthy – and not just those who sit while they work but also those working high up in the air, such as our industrial climbers.
Our new head office building, which officially opened in 2010, is a prime example of high efficiency. Several of REMONDIS’ innovative recycled products were used for the construction work. The heat generated by the building’s own computer centre is used to heat the offices and meeting rooms. The temperature regulation system automatically turns the heating off in a room if a window is opened. All in all, a really smart building.
One of our company’s most important features is its decentralised organisation. We have built up close ties with the towns and cities where we are located and do everything in our power to support their local economy – in keeping, therefore, with our maxim of ‘thinking globally and acting locally’.
The movement to help preserve our planet’s natural resources is an international concern but the first step begins with each individual and the way they think. Dedication and a commitment to sustainability, therefore, must be thought through at global level but the message must also reach the people on the ground and must inspire them to join in. REMONDIS’ projects show how this can be done.
Sustainability is not a state or a condition but an ongoing process. First and foremost, sustainability is team work. Which is why we cooperate closely with experts and research institutes that also feel strongly about conserving our planet’s natural resources and preventing climate change. Such work always leads to new approaches and innovations.
We worked together with the independent Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT to develop this unique Sustainability Certificate. It provides our customers with documented proof of how our services help their business to conserve resources and cut carbon emissions.
Recycling starts much earlier than most people realise – namely when a product is actually being designed. It is certainly true that composite materials are very useful for our everyday lives. They are, however, causing a real problem when they are no longer needed as it is practically impossible – or only with a huge effort – to separate the materials from each other so that they can be recycled for reuse. The only way to solve this problem is to systematically implement the principle of ecodesign, which takes the environmental compatibility of a product into account from its development all the way through to the end of its useful life. Including the recyclability of the product and to what extent recycled raw materials can be used to produce it in the first place.
All around the world, local authorities and public sector customers are opting to work with REMONDIS and make the very most of its specialist knowledge. The outcome of setting up these so-called public private partnerships is stable fees for the local inhabitants as well as professional waste treatment processes – combined with the highest possible recycling rates. Positive outcomes that also benefit the environment.
One of the top priorities for companies wishing to run a responsible business is to ensure they have sustainable production processes in place. REMONDIS is always happy to help out here with its know-how. Our portfolio of services ranges from treating wastewater, to processing residual materials, all the way through to producing biogas – all of which are delivered on site at our customers'.
Raw materials don’t disappear, they are just hidden away. Today’s complex products consist of so many tiny elements that it seems practically impossible to recover them and separate them according to type. Focusing on material streams can make things much easier.
Copy our technology? Yes please! Our recycling operations in Lünen are acting as a role model around the globe and have even received an award from KlimaExpo.NRW. We have succeeded in transferring our know-how to many flourishing regions around the world, such as to the Eco Industrial Parks in Asia, which are now run in line with the Lippe Plant’s high standards.
The latest studies have revealed that each and every one of us could do a great deal more towards conserving our planet’s natural resources. Simply by separating our waste better – i.e. less commingling. If we all did this, then a further 7.8 million tonnes of recyclables could be returned to production cycles in Germany alone. This is the equivalent of a further 95kg per inhabitant per year.
A comparison with how nature works shows that what we call a circular flow or closed loop economy is often a bit misleading. This is because, more often than not, people fail to think in a holistic and all-encompassing way. This failure leads to recyclable materials and pollutants being mixed together during production processes, making it impossible for the products to be fully recycled at the end of their useful life. The so-called Cradle to Cradle® design concept aims to help out here.
Products are being developed and improved all the time – not least because of our society's desire to switch to renewable energy. Any environmental benefits that photovoltaic systems, wind turbines and composite insulation boards may bring, however, quickly fall by the wayside if they cannot be sensibly recycled once they reach the end of their useful life. This is where research work must step up to the mark.
Wherever we see an opportunity to drive forward the notion of sustainability and to fix it even more firmly in the minds of people, then we are there, full of passion and enthusiasm for the cause. This covers a whole range of activities – from educational projects, to acting as advisers, to supporting universities.
It makes no difference how many pamphlets politicians and scientists print out about the subject of resource conservation. What is important is just how much of their message is actually taken in by society. Which is why we are doing everything in our power to take the notion of sustainability to where it will truly be absorbed – to kindergartens and classrooms.
We are more than happy to share our knowledge with others. Each and every day, we advise politicians and trade associations about topics such as conserving natural resources and preventing climate change to ensure these issues are given the attention they deserve. Lobbying for sustainable development so to speak.
EURAWASSER Nord, a company belonging to the REMONDIS Group, has been collaborating with the University of Rostock since 1994 – carrying out research work together and promoting young talent. That's quite a few semesters – and quite a few projects as well, of course.
If everyone around the world consumed our planet's natural resources at the same rate as we do in Germany, we would need to have 2.7 Earths to satisfy their demand. There can, therefore, be only one solution: more responsible consumption habits, less waste, better recycling. REMONDIS works with, among others, NABU (German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) to help set the course for a more sustainable future.
The Steigenberger Hotel in Berlin was presented with the "Meeting Experts Green Award" in 2015. Why? Because the events held at the hotel focus on sustainability and carbon compensation. REMONDIS has been helping Steigenberger with its bespoke recycling concept, drawn up to cover the hotel chain's specific requirements.
Everyone is talking about the scarcity of raw materials and about sustainability. But what exactly is behind it all? We decided to do some research to find out what it’s all about – so that we could put together some pages with the most important background information for you to read.
The first time that attention was really paid to sustainability was during the UN Conference on Environment and Development, which was held in Rio in 1992. At the time, the delegates attending the event decided that the problem of greenhouse gases should be tackled in order to reduce levels of carbon emissions around the world. Practically no progress has been made since then. Which means we have even less time now to successfully combat the greenhouse effect.
Whilst sustainability is without doubt a global issue, it still needs to be tackled at national level with each government introducing their own national structures. So what are the different policies – at global, EU and German level? How is sustainability being approached by these different communities? This chapter provides some answers.
Sustainability needs action. Right around the world. The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs – which were drawn up and adopted in 2015 – describe what action needs to be taken so that all 7 billion people living on our planet can enjoy a high quality of life.
Every one of us has at some time or other heard or read of the ‘impending shortage of raw materials’. Just how serious is the situation though? How much of these natural resources do we actually have left and how can we consume less of them? We’ve put together a few examples that answer both these and a number of other questions.
The concept of sustainability is finding an ever greater audience – online as well. We have done our homework for you and sifted through the huge range of websites on this topic. The result is an interesting collection of websites, portals and blogs.
Millions of disposable nappies are thrown into residual waste bins across Germany every single day, which means they are sent to incineration plants. This is the normal route. But normal is not always right. And when it comes to disposable nappies, this is anything but sustainable. While thermal treatment does indeed generate energy, all of the materials are lost to us forever. A nappy is a highly complex product containing a variety of plastics. There are two reasons why incinerating plastic is not the best solution. Firstly, a valuable raw material – which really should be recycled – is destroyed forever. Secondly, incinerating plastic is bad for the climate and bad for the environment. A different solution is needed here. We at REMONDIS have found one – or rather built one: a state-of-the-art and, most importantly, a sustainable recycling plant specifically for nappies.
are recovered from one tonne of nappies
*by adding sewage sludge
When it comes to nappy recycling, the magic word is thermal pressure hydrolysis. This is a process that melts down the nappies at a temperature of 250°C and at a pressure of 40 bar rather than incinerate them. As a result, the individual components of the nappies – primarily polymers and cellulose – can be separated from each other and recovered. The whole system generates high quality recycled raw materials – in the form of plastic granules and paper – which can be returned to production cycles and reused. But that’s not all. The leftover material is then enriched with digested sewage sludge in a downstream process. This produces high-purity biogas that can be transformed into green electricity.
Heating the materials up under high pressure guarantees that all bacteria are destroyed
The nappy recycling pilot plant is being operated by the Dutch recycling firm, ARN. The research work was carried out by the University of Brandenburg and the development work by Elsinga Beleidsplanning en Innovatie B.V.
The nappy recycling system is currently being operated on an industrial scale in the Dutch town of Weurt near Nimwegen. We opened a facility here in December 2018, which is currently in the process of being expanded. Once the expansion work has been completed in the middle of 2021, the facility will be able to process 15,000 tonnes of nappies every year. Several years of tests had been performed before the plant was built. The first trial began in 2013 when the deliberate decision was made to set up just a small-scale facility. Since then, we have gradually improved the process so that it is now market ready. Our short-term goal is to expand our nappy recycling capacities so we can further promote sustainable development. Over the medium term, we wish to set up the technology at other European locations so that the logistics also meets our high sustainability standards. At the end of the day, nappies can be found in every single country.
Recycling nappies is far better for our climate than incinerating them. When our plant reaches full capacity and is able to process 15,000 tonnes of nappies a year, it will cut carbon emissions by 14,460 tonnes.
Being able to guarantee materials recycling is just one side of the coin. The other is ensuring that nappies are collected as a segregated waste stream. This is a basic prerequisite for nappy recycling. Segregated collection schemes already exist in a number of European countries. Others – including Germany – have not set up such systems yet. Being a pioneer – in the area of nappy recycling in particular and in the area of sustainability in general – we are doing everything in our power to make sure progress is made here, too. We can, of course, set an example and show the way in the private sector. And this is precisely what we are doing – for example, by offering institutions such as hospitals and care homes waste management concepts that include a separate storage and collection system for absorbent hygiene products.
One thing is clear: the subject of nappy recycling will become more and more important. While there is a growing supply of organic nappies (i.e. nappies made with plastic that is not produced from petroleum) on the market, conventional nappies are likely to remain the product of choice for the majority of parents for the foreseeable future. Over three billion disposable nappies are used in Germany every year. What’s more, nappy manufacturers are always trying to offer their customers newer, improved products. In such cases, ‘improved’ generally means a more complex composition of materials and a more sophisticated mix of plastics. This will not make the challenge faced by recycling businesses any easier. Yet another reason, therefore, for us to keep trying to advance this particular field of recycling.
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