After receiving a warm welcome from the BDE Junior Association and SSI Schaefer on Thursday in Iserlohn, Germany, the National Waste & Recycling Association’s (NWRA) Future Industry Leaders Alliance (FILA) group members, who are on their Leadership Summit trip, toured a German packaging sorting facility and a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant before participating in afternoon presentations led by some of the Leadership Summit sponsors SSI Schaefer, Faun and Steinert at the SASE Convention Center on Friday, May 11.
In an effort to see how other countries handle solid waste management in comparison to the United States, FILA members toured Lobbe’s recycling and sorting facility. Stefan Minius, head of sales for Germany and Eastern Europe, welcomed the group and provided an overview of Lobbe’s sorting plant. During the tour, FILA members saw the sorting process of plastic that is discarded in the yellow bins that German residents use specifically for packaging and plastic waste.
In Germany, government regulations require all waste to be separated in different colored collection bins for specific kinds of waste. Gray bins are meant for non-recyclable materials, brown is for food and organic waste, blue is for paper, yellow is for packaging and plastics and a large bag is used for glass collection.
After the recycling facility tour, the group went to AMK, a WTE plant that processes all the waste discarded in the gray bins for the Iserlohn region. The refuse-fueled, district-heating power station is one element in the waste management concept in the region. Germany banned landfills 15 years ago, so all waste material is either burned or recycled.
The group returned to SASE Convention Center for lunch and an afternoon of presentations from the FILA group Leadership Summit sponsors.
Dr. Armin Vogel, executive vice president of plastics for SSI Schaefer, gave a presentation on the digitalization of waste and what the industry can do to improve its own technology and not fall victim to disruptive technological changes out of its control. SSI Schaefer is aiming to do that with its new smart products that it is showcasing at IFAT 2018, held May 14-18 in Munich.
Faun provided a demo of its Rotopress truck—a side loader with a rotating drum that allows for continuous loading instead of a packer plate. And Steinert provided an overview of its 125-year company history and its product offerings and services.
Touring these facilities and hearing presentations from companies outside of the United States allows FILA members to see the differences between what is done abroad versus in the United States, which helps fulfill FILA’s mission to promote the development and advancement of future leaders in the waste and recycling industry through meaningful education, assistance, networking and mentoring.
Maria Frizzell, CEO of SSI Schaefer’s waste and technology division, initiated the idea during WasteExpo 2017 to travel abroad for the 2018 Leadership Summit and meet with and exchange ideas with the BDE Junior Association, says Zach Martin, co-chair of FILA and vice president of sales of North America for Big Truck Rental.
“Schaefer has been very generous to sponsor this opportunity and it’s going very well—it’s been a great opportunity to establish our relationship with BDE Junior Association and to continue to learn. We haven’t done any joint networking like this before,” says Martin.
Josh Thompson, co-chair of FILA and director of purchasing with Waste Industries, says this trip abroad has been “incredibly educational. It’s an opportunity to see how different countries address the same problems we see in the United States.”
He says that meeting people that work in the same industry but in a different country has been informative, and it’s been a good opportunity to share back and forth, specifically with the BDE Junior Association members who hosted the group in Iserlohn.
“The BDE Junior members are extremely professional, very thoughtful and well educated, so it’s been good. Personally, they remind me of some of the people we work with back in the U.S.,” says Thompson.