HIM Company History

The 70s: Establishing the Framework for Regulated Hazardous Waste Disposal

with the founding of „Industriemüllgesellschaft mbH“ in 1972 by industrial enterprises and associations in Hesse, the state became one of the first in Germany to implement special measures for the disposal of hazardous waste. Establishing a structure for the regulated disposal of hazardous waste was the objective. With the 1st Federal Waste Management Act of June 1972, waste disposal became a public environmental protection responsibility and the states were obligated to implement regional waste management plans. Waste disposal laws were at best fragmentary up to that time. For example, the Federal Republic of Germany had approximately 50,000 unregulated waste dumps - some of them in densely populated regions - at the start of the 1970s.

It was a period defined by massive environmental scandals because of illegal disposal threatening the water, air and ground essential to life. The State of Hesse invested in the company in 1974 to meet its infrastructure provision obligations. The name of the company was changed to HIM Hessische Industriemüll GmbH (Hessian Industrial Waste Ltd.). In 1975, HIM was commissioned for the state-wide organisation of hazardous waste disposal along with the planning, construction and operation of the facilities required for this purpose. HIM conducted facility planning based on data on the expected waste quantities collected by the Hesse Chamber of Industry and Commerce. The years that followed were defined by extensive investments.

In 1978, HIM commissioned the chemical-physical treatment plants and collection centres in Frankfurt and Kassel. The „Ordinance on the Disposal of Industrial and Commercial Hazardous Waste“ (Hazardous Waste Ordinance) of November 13, 1978 established the legal basis appointing the company as the official hazardous waste disposal service provider, responsible for organising waste collection along with the construction and operation of the corresponding waste disposal facilities. The same ordinance established that the originators of hazardous waste were required to obtain the services of HIM as the official hazardous waste disposal service provider, unless they received approval for the disposal of said wastes in their own facilities. At the same time, HIM was obligated to accept the wastes.

The 80s: Insufficient Capacity and a State of Emergency for Hazardous Waste

Representing the state-of-the-art even then, the hazardous waste incineration plant in Biebesheim commenced operation in 1982. The emulsion separation plant was commissioned at the same site one year earlier. HIM invested approximately DM 200 million up to the year 1983 in order to put itself in a position to meet its legal obligations. Incineration on the high seas had previously been the accepted disposal method for halogenated liquid hazardous wastes while solid and sludgy, combustible hazardous wastes were usually still deposited in landfills.

The years that followed were defined by a continuous increase in the volume of hazardous waste and in revenues. Avoiding and recycling hazardous wastes gained significance with the Waste Management Act of 1986. HIM projections that the volume of hazardous wastes requiring disposal would nevertheless fail to decrease in the future proved correct. Along with increasing environmental awareness, more and more waste contaminated with hazardous substances was identified and had to be disposed of by HIM. An expansion of incineration capacities appeared unavoidable. The problem of insufficient capacity was particularly severe for wastes that were being deposited in landfills. These were almost exclusively disposed of in facilities outside the authority of HIM. Both for economic and responsible environmental protection reasons, it seemed essential for HIM to operate the required disposal facilities directly.

HIM planned the construction of an above-ground landfill in Mainhausen and a third incinerator line in the Biebesheim hazardous waste incineration plant. The media used phrases like „a state of emergency for hazardous waste“ and „backwards production shut-down“ in discussing the situation at the time. For some types of hazardous waste, the delivery backlog was up to eight months.

The 90s: Market and Company Changes

In 1989, a statutory order by the State of Hesse commissioned HIM as a service provider for the remediation of contaminated sites. The remediation of contaminated sites division (HIM ASG) was founded for this purpose. On behalf of the State of Hesse, HIM ASG is responsible for the remediation of commercial contaminated sites where those responsible for remediation cannot be held liable or made accountable for the cleanup in a timely manner. Ever since then, the remediation of contaminated sites business area steadily gained importance for HIM and has become the company?s second supporting pillar today. We work for private companies and organisations under public law.

HIM expanded its activities in 1991 with the disposal of contaminated soil along with the construction and operation of interim storage facilities for small amounts of hazardous waste collected from households and small commercial operations.

The first half of the nineties was also defined by a high investment volume, mainly to retrofit the treatment plants in order to meet legal requirements (Technical Instructions on Waste, 17th Federal Emission Protection Ordinance (BImSchV)).

At over 780,000 tonnes, HIM disposed of more waste than ever before in 1992. This was due to a high quantity of contaminated soil. On the other hand, the amount of waste delivered to the company?s own plants declined due to economic factors along with measures to avoid and recover waste products. In addition, residual material previously disposed of by HIM was increasingly transported out of Hesse.

The disposal situation underwent a fundamental change in 1993: For the first time in ten years, some of the waste disposal facilities in Germany had free capacity. The „disposal backlog“ was eliminated over the course of the year. A trend towards the increasing co-incineration of hazardous wastes in cement and generating plants also put pressure on the disposal industry. In addition, capacity for hazardous waste incineration was created in Germany in spite of the shrinking market and certain facilities were retrofitted accordingly.

HIM took the new market situation into account and gave up its plans to expand the capacity of the hazardous waste incineration plant along with the planned and partially completed hazardous waste landfill in Mainhausen one year later.

The share capital of HIM was increased by DM 21 million to DM 57.9 million in 1994. The equity ratio at the end of 1994 was 24%. Cancelling the Mainhausen project represents a sea change in the disposal policies of Hesse and the HIM company policy because it had two important consequences: The State of Hesse backed away from its objective to have waste from the state disposed of exclusively in Hesse in favour of cross-regional cooperation. Opening HIM to a shareholder outside the State of Hesse marked the start of cross-regional involvement for our company.

The Recycling and Waste Management Act of 1996 manifested the „avoid - recover - dispose“ hierarchy of obligations. Over the course of the nineties, the „battle for waste“ became more and more intense. While the disposal of waste in highly modern specialised facilities constructed for this purpose is subject to strict legal requirements, recovery such as the co-incineration of waste with high heating value in cement plants often takes place under lower environmental technology standards. The redirection of these waste streams meant that the prior seller?s market with capacity shortages became a buyer?s market with excess capacity. This situation and the expected market adjustment process required a realignment of customer relationships by forward-thinking companies. This is why HIM created a consulting structure tailored to the problems and needs of customers in 1996.

Five customer support teams in Biebesheim are organised to support industries or customer segments with similar requirements. Marketing also became a concern and was implemented as a function. Today HIM views itself as a partner for its customers, offering integrated solutions to all disposal and remediation problems. The fact that we have our own recycling and disposal facilities is a major advantage for waste originators. HIM operations optimise their processes, thereby increasing throughput significantly.

The New Millennium: Expansion and Further Development

In addition to its legal mandate for the disposal of special wastes from the State of Hesse, HIM is increasingly involving itself in the national and international market. HIM completed the takeover of SONDERABFALLENTSORGUNG BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG GmbH (SBW) in the year 2000, thereby gaining control of two additional facilities in Stuttgart and Billigheim.

Two customer support teams in Stuttgart look after the disposal and remediation needs of customers in Baden-Württemberg. While we no longer operate as HESSISCHE INDUSTRIEMÜLL GmbH since our involvement in Baden-Württemberg, the HIM brand was retained.