Waste - Why care? (Germany)
A sustainable policy for the conservation of natural resources assigns a high degree of importance to the creation of closed material cycles – from extraction of the raw materials through production, use and consumption to collection, to high-grade recovery.
Modern waste management is an integral component of sustainable materials flow management. Its aim is to decouple the amount of waste generated, including municipal waste, from economic growth.
The quantity of waste generated in Germany declined between 2000 and 2005, due to the reduction in building and demolition waste but rose again in 2006 and 2007, mainly due to increasing quantities of building and demolition waste. However, there was also an increase in waste from production and commerce.
Three-quarters of waste in Germany is pre-treated and sent for recovery – landfill is steadily decreasing. This trend is particularly noticeable for municipal waste, the landfill disposal of which has almost ceased. Above all, the ban on land filling non pre-treated municipal waste from the 1 June 2005 played a significant part in this.
The sustained high recovery rates lead to the conclusion that German waste management is making a significant contribution towards saving primary materials in production.
Waste management is also of importance for climate protection: the most obvious relative reduction – about 73 % – in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from waste management occurred between 1990 and 2008, largely due to the smaller quantity of landfilled waste. However, improvements could also be made in the efficiency of methane gas recovery from landfill sites.
With around 200 000 employees, waste management generates an annual turnover of approximately € 50 billion and is an important economic factor in Germany.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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