Why Germany is the best in waste management?

Reverse logistics in Germany

R.E.: In the 1990s, the Tuscany region wanted to build two waste incineration plants in our province. We wanted to prevent this. But our problem was that we had no support among the population. We had a big assembly of 1,000 people. But we had no scientific support and the environmental organizations didn’t want to help either. At the same time, the Zero Waste movement has developed worldwide and has received help from the office of environmentalist Barry Commoner, who has succeeded in preventing two waste incineration plants in New York. Professor and activist Paul Connett was recommended to us. He came to see us and when he spoke to this large assembly in our province, we realized we would win.

R.E.: When you win, everyone watches what you do. Meanwhile, Zero Waste municipalities in Italy represent about 7 million people. Everyone wants to talk about waste prevention. We are also no longer pioneers, but we can immediately offer individual solutions that can be implemented directly, like from a toolbox. It is very important that Germany has joined now, because it has traction in Europe.

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Recycling plant in Germany

The chronic waste crisis in Italy has brought large contracts to German waste processors, which are currently receiving more than 160,000 tons of waste from the pizza’s hometown. (31.03.2008)

A new industrial sector is emerging as a result of European regulations for the use of discarded household appliances. Business with recycling needs to be done in a big way and this calls for new technologies. (20.03.2006)

The Germans’ eagerness to preserve the environment is perhaps one of their best-known characteristics internationally, along with potatoes, sauerkraut and vacations in the Mediterranean. (01.05.2007)

European countries that recycle the most

New binding targets for recycling, packaging and landfilling were set in 2018. The aim of these new rules is to promote the shift towards a more sustainable model known as the desired circular economy in the European Union.  In March 2020, the European Commission published an action plan for the circular economy that aims to reduce waste production through better resource management.

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In February 2021, the Parliament voted on the circular economy action plan and called for additional measures to move towards a carbon-neutral, sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050. These should include stricter recycling laws and binding targets for 2030 to reduce the ecological footprint of material use and consumption.

In absolute terms, the countries with the highest municipal waste per person were Denmark, Malta, Cyprus and Germany. Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Romania are the EU countries that produced the least.

Recycling methods in Germany

The Germans, with a 98% recycling rate for their plastic packaging, are not only doing a good job in this area. They are also making notable progress in composting and anaerobic digestion of the organic fraction. The German country is also forcing its companies to rethink the product cycle, both in terms of packaging, manufacturing processes and disposal. In addition, it has implemented in many of its lands the system of return and return (SDDR), that is, companies that sell packaging are obliged to recover them, encouraging citizens to return them, once consumed (return the ‘shells’ of the bottles, as was done decades ago).

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