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17. February 2017

Federal Environment Minister Dr Barbara Hendricks visits Europe’s largest recycling centre

Talks held on how recycling may develop after the 2017 federal & state elections and on ways of further protecting the environment and curbing global warming

Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), Dr Barbara Hendricks, was welcomed to REMONDIS’ Lippe Plant, Europe’s largest industrial recycling centre, on Friday, 17 February 2017. Accompanied by senior civil servant Dr Thomas Rummler and German MPs, Sylvia Jörrißen and Michael Thews, the minister first toured the plant to see the wide range of technology and recycling operations for herself before meeting with REMONDIS managing directors to discuss the future of the recycling sector in Germany and Europe.

Their talks focused on a number of areas including introducing ecodesign guidelines for manufacturers and improving current legislation to increase the volume of recyclables collected in Germany – two key factors for making recycling even more efficient in the future. Looking at the exponential growth of the world’s population, it will become increasingly important to close product cycles and recover the raw materials for re-use to ensure there are sufficient supplies of raw materials in the future. If the most is to be made of this potential and consumers are to continue to have access to affordable and eco-friendly products, then politicians need to initiate far-sighted legislation. The idea of introducing ecodesign guidelines – i.e. regulations that would make it obligatory for producers to design their products so that preferably all of the raw materials in them can be recovered and reused – was discussed as a medium-term political goal.

This opportunity was also used to talk about the latest legislative changes and to suggest how they might be improved. The fact, for example, that the latest draft bill regulating the use of fertilisers actually puts compost that does not cause water pollution and is so important for improving our soils in a worse position that slurry would not appear to be the most effective way of protecting our lakes and rivers. REMONDIS believes there is room for improvement here.

During her visit, the minister also got to learn about the TetraPhos process, an award-winning and particularly innovative method to recover phosphorus from sewage sludge ash. This technology is already being deployed on an industrial scale as part of a collaboration project with Hamburg Wasser.

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