A German recipe to improve a pesticide’s packages collection scheme

Facts: August to November 2011, Mr. Dambeck initiated and controlled a method to introduce in SCAPA regular waste of plastic coming from the municipal waste collectors. Using this method, my German superior planned to cheat RIGK clients and AIPROM members by selling them other plastic than their packages that supposed to be collected by SCAPA. Mr. Dambeck is the General Manager of RIGK gmbh and RIGK srl, SCAPA is the Romanian Pesticides Packages Recovery System owned by AIPROM, the Romanian Crop Protection Industry Association.

In November 2011, Mr. Dambeck approved on an email the financial terms for this method. The deal supposed to provide a margin of 200-250%, representing the difference from the price of the acquisition for waste and the price that AIPROM members were paying to RIGK the SCAPA collection services, but mainly to help RIGK to reach its collection targets.

But my German chief avoid in his planning one important detail, something specific to the Romanian system: on all SCAPA recovery documents RIGK srl has to have Romanian farmers or agricultural companies as waste generators, not documents done with recyclers or waste traders as generators or providers.

I’m still asking my self if this proposal from my German colleagues is or was applied by any time in Germany.  It is  another personal Big Doubt about ECPA’s reports on “Hungry for change?” campaign, regarding the waste collection results as long as they are including Romanian and German data, as I will explain bellow.

Stepping a little back in time when RIGK srl was about to renegotiating the contracts with AIPROM members. End of 2010 and beginning of 2011, after negotiations with AIPROM Mr. Markus Dambeck accepted a severe cut for SCAPA collection price, a fixed price for next 4 years, an objective set at 67% for the recovery rate in 2014. Beside all that, RIGK srl had to invest in five years in logistics around half of the 2010’s turnover and yearly to spend tens of thousand Euros on SCAPA communication. Above all, RIGK srl had to reach the target year-by-year, otherwise any member, without any further notice might end the contracts. Less money for our services, more quantities as objectives, a lot of risks to keep a sudden death contract alive.

This deal was in my opinion unsustainable, mainly considering the Romanian farmers appetite to respect the environmental legislation for pesticide waste. RIGK srl collected until 2010 almost everything what was available to “eco” farmers, including some of the “historical” pesticides packages together with other non-SCAPA materials as fertilizers and seeds bags. For me it looks like living on the edge, but for my General Manager was very optimistic. And he was full of surprises too.

January 2011, in the same time with AIPROM negotiation, Mr. Dambeck contacted and started to negotiate a trading contract for recycling materials with a Swiss citizen having a Romanian residency and businesses in recycling industry.

In April 2011 the contract was sign between RIGK srl and a trading company registered in Romania and owned by the Swiss partner. This Swiss had to find for RIGK srl plastic waste to be trade through his company or to be commissioned for RIGK srl would do the trade based on his hints.

May 2011, contracts with AIPROM were signed. At that time RIGK srl was not even authorized as waste collector even if we run SCAPA for 3 years already. For the authorization RIGK had a August 2011 as deadline.

July-August 2011, a lot of searches and researches done by the Swiss trader, no one of his proposals were sufficiently good in terms of price and quality for our team in Germany. RIGK srl is authorized as waste collector.

August 2011, after a 2 day visit to a municipal waste collector in South West Romania, Mr. Dambeck brought his secret plan on the table and asked me in a conversation if I would participate in the scheme to introduce non-SCAPA materials in SCAPA collection. I refused.

July-November- the Swiss is still scouting for us, under the remotely but careful surveillance of Mr. Alexandra Nitu, another RIGK gmbh employee.

October – November 2011- we came closer and closer to the end of the year with an important deficit comparing with our plan: RIGK collected at 15th of September only 350 tons and the plan for 2011was 650 tons.

So, starting with October, the German team was activated under the pressure of time, in case we did not reach the objective the business might be closed by AIPROM members. Mr. Dambeck and Mr. Heil, who was PAMIRA manager and responsible for RIGK Romania collection activities, were both involved in a correspondence with me to set up how much and with what cost RIGK srl will introduce in SCAPA scheme plastic materials with other provenience that AIPROM contracts specified.

In November 2011, Mr. Heil announced me by email that he checked with Mr. Dambeck and I am right to decline their proposal to introduce in SCAPA quantities coming from the Swiss trader. What other solution RIGK srl had?

RIGK srl did not trade any waste quantities with the Swiss trader or other waste traders until December 2012, when I was dismissed.

Between January – August 2011 RIGK srl collected 350 tons of material from 663 collection points/farmers. Between September to 15th of December 2011, RIGK srl collected 250 tons of material from 371 collection points. On 15th of December 2011 RIGK srl declare to its SCAPA clients a collection of 670 tons, with a 55% recovery rate. From the total quantity reported to our clients, 70 tons were collected in the previous year, in 2010.

Was this a plan designed as a Romanian experiment or is a German recipe? cintar

Between 2008 and 2012, as long as I was directly involved in SCAPA development and in direct contact with RIGK gmbh and RIGK srl, few important differences and similarities between SCAPA and PAMIRA as pesticides packages collection schemes were revealed by me. Differences were:

  1. SCAPA made collection in around 70 Collection Centers but mainly directly from farms. PAMIRA collected their packages only at few hundred collection centers but not directly from farmers.
  1. SCAPA organized the collection campaigns at Collection Centers owned by pesticide wholesalers, part of the industry stakeholders, most of them being AIPROM members. At this SCAOA Collection Centers there were no other waste/packages than pesticide packages. The owners were focused on selling pesticides and not to collect waste. PAMIRA was organizing their collection centers mainly into a selected net of general/municipal collector’s warehouses, where other waste materials is still very available.
  1. SCAPA operator, RIGK srl, is a profit company, PAMIRA operator, RIGK gmbh, is a non-profit company.

Similarities were:

  1. SCAPA and PAMIRA prices for collected material were 3-5 times bigger than the similar type of material collected by a regular waste collector from a regular market. The difference might be explained partially with a cost of special inspection, special communication, special clients, etc.…
  2. SCAPA and PAMIRA had the same management and decision maker.
  3. Both SCAPA and PAMIRA operators were focused on profit.
  4. Collectors from both countries were very happy with RIGK team.

End of FACTS, now is only my personal opinion transformed in a personal concern. It is a personal opinion of a journalist, former manager and a free public speaker: For me it seems that is a big business opportunity and an easy to be done profit by redirecting some plastic from municipal waste into the pesticide collection waste stream. If this material is shredded is easy to hidden the provenience, easy to be transported and (surprise!) easy to be recycled. It might be a good business opportunity both for the PAMIRA’s collectors that are handling cheap municipal waste and for RIGK gmbh as the PAMIRA operator. At the end of the year everybody is happy: the industry, they are proud about astonishing results, the white-collar garbage men reaching their targets and bonuses and the dirty waste material collectors are having a better price for their waste, right at their gate.

A similar situation might be found in Poland, where Remondis is operating the pesticide collection system in parallel with other collection streams, so the precise control of the materials was impossible as long as I was in this business with direct information. And this approach is very probable in many European countries as long nobody from clients (associations of pesticides producers) and authorities are not checking the waste stream and the people that are managing the garbage are having the same attitude like the one I described above. Who wants to dig into dirt?

As I said, I’m still asking my self if the proposal from my German colleagues is applied by any time in Germany. It is  another personal Big Doubt about ECPA’s reports on “Hungry for change?” campaign, regarding the waste collection results as long as they are including Romanian and German data.

I presume those European Crop Protection Association results are wrong because, in this case is more true than any other situation, a basic statistic’s rule says: “Garbage in, garbage out”.

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