RWTH Alumni Visit to Hamburg Borsigstraße Waste Recycling Plant on June 22, 2018

Factories Copyright: © Winfried Sturm

15 alumni met in traditional dreary Hamburg weather on Friday, June 22, 2018, for their annual get together. This year, their meeting brought them to the MVB – the Borsigstraße Waste Recycling Plant in Hamburg. Alumnus Winfried Sturm met the alumni at the main entrance and handed out nametags.


The MVB, operated by Hamburger Stadtreinigung, went into operation in 1994 and is primarily responsible for recycling and processing Hamburg's residual waste from households and industry. The facility has three incineration lines – two for residual waste and a third for biofuel from exclusively wood waste. The heat generated from the incineration is used to create steam, which is then used to generate heat for Hamburg's district heating grid. The remaining steam is turned into electrical energy.

  People in helmets climbing stairs Copyright: © Winfried Sturm

Our tour began with a roughly one hour presentation by Mr. Hauzinski, who provided detailed information about the entire plant and company. With over 40 years of experience at the MVB and its predecessors, his passion for waste recycling was tangible.

Following the presentation we headed to the unloading site for the garbage trucks. There, garbage is dumped from the trucks into a large waste bunker. Those with a keen sense of smell could notice the slight smell of fermentation, which was, to our amazement, astoundingly subtle due to a vacuum in the waste bunker. We then went beyond the roof of the waste bunker to the crane operators' control room. The crane operators are the true master of waste incineration: they know exactly how the waste must be mixed to achieve the highest possible efficiency during incineration. On our way out of the incineration plant we briefly observed the condensation turbines for line 3, which boasts an electric capacity of 20MW. A small portion of the electricity generated is used to cover the plant's own needs with the remainder sent into the local high voltage network.

We also toured a large hall in which the valuable material that results from the incineration is stored. This includes slag (used in street construction), iron scrap (is added during the manufacture of steel), and plaster. The remaining waste that cannot be re-used is safely disposed underground.

  People in a restaurant Copyright: © Winfried Sturm

After just over two and a half hours we said goodbye to Mr. Hauzinski, thanking him for the enjoyable and interesting tour of the MVB. Thanks also go to alumnus Christoph Schröder for arranging the extraordinary visit.

Some of the group met afterwards for an enjoyable evening at an Italian restaurant. Conversation about Aachen and RWTH then and now flowed. Many thanks to Winfried Sturm for the once again excellent organization of the get together.