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Waste Management in Germany


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Title: Waste Management in Germany

Waste Management in Germany
  • Dr.-Ing. Helmut Schnurer
  • Deputy Director General
  • from 1985 until 2006
  • Head of Waste Management Directorate
  • at the Federal Ministry for the Environment
  • Bonn, Germany

Some Data and Figures (1)
  • Until 1975 50.000 uncontrolled landfills in FRG
  • Most of them closed within a few years and
    replaced by central waste management facilities
    (engineered landfills, MSWI)
  • Today High Tech Industry transfers waste to
    secondary raw materials and energy
  • turnover of 50 billion EURO/a
  • 250 000 jobs
  • Invested money 1993-2005
  • 9 billion EURO for remediation and closure of gt
    500 landfills
  • 3 billion EURO for new facilities to recycle and
    recover 12.5 Mill t of waste per year (bio waste,
  • 7.5 billion EURO for new facilities to pretreate
    14 Mill t of MSW per year

In details....
Quelle Statistisches Bundesamt
European) Waste Policy
  • Priority for avoidance, material recycling and
    energy recovery of waste
  • Implementation of extended producer
    responsibility for products
  • Stop landfilling of bio degradable waste
  • Mandatory pretreatment of solid wastes
  • Contribution to climate protection
  • Harmonization within European Union

The new closed substance cycle
  • Implementing the vision of the 1992 world summit
    of Rio on sustainable development
  • ?Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act
    1996 in Germany (China Circular Economy)
  • First priority now on substitution of resources
    (raw materials for production or secondary fuels
    for energy priority should be given to the more
    environmentally friendly way)
  • Recycling must be environmentally sound,
    economically reasonable and socially viable
  • Disposal of wastes only, if recycling or recovery
    is not possible (problem of enforcement!)
  • Steep increase in recycling and recovery quotas
    in Germany (gtgt50 80 and higher) for many types
    of waste

Steps of Development (1)
  • First reduce waste for disposal
  • Inform / motivate citizens and industry
  • Start of separate collection of recycable waste
  • Promote reuse (packaging)
  • Increase gate fee for landfills
  • Second priority for recycling/(recovery)
  • Reduce waste going to landfill (no capacities)
  • Save resources (secondary raw materials/RDF)
  • Introduce extended producer responsibility
    (packaging, batteries, waste oil, scrap cars,
  • Promote composting, paper recycling and others

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High standards of recycling(achieving quotas of
50...80 )
  • Main fields of actions
  • Bio waste for composting / anaerobic digestion
  • Waste paper
  • Packaging of all types
  • Construction and demolition waste
  • Batteries
  • Waste wood
  • Industrial waste
  • End of life vehicles
  • Electric and electronic equipment
  • ( EPR-regulations in EU)

Bio waste for composting / anaerobic digestion
  • Separate collection of 7.3 mil tons of bio waste
    in 2004
  • Composting is only allowed for separately
    collected bio-degradable wastes (listed)
  • Problems with separate collection in cities
  • 813 facilities for composting
  • 85 facilities for digestion (wet or dry)
  • Limited market for compost
  • Increase of digestion due to promotion of
    renewable energy (climate protection)

Waste paper (graphic paper)
  • Nationwide separate collection from households
    and commercial enterprises in bins or containers
  • Voluntary agreement by the paper chain to use
    waste paper as a resource (mainly in other than
    production of graphic paper)
  • One reason decreasing acceptance of recycling
    paper in the public
  • Recycling rate gt80 (no fully closed loop)
  • Paper fibres cannot recycled for ever

Packaging of all types
  • German Packaging Ordinance from 1991 covers
  • Sales Packaging
  • Secondary Packaging
  • Transport Packaging and
  • any packaging material
  • Responsibility for producer, filler or retailer
    to take back and recycle (extended producer
  • Establishment of separate collection and
    recycling systems by industry
  • For sales packaging from households and similar
    sources Dual System with Green Dot label (at the
    beginning a monopolistic system)
  • Now growing competition by alternative systems
  • Minimum quotas between 60 and 75 for all
    packaging materials (achieved, even for plastics!)

Batteries and Accumulators
  • Reduction of hazardous substances (heavy metals)
    by European regulation (first European product
    standard for new products)
  • Take back obligation for producers, importers and
  • Collection system exists for take back at points
    of sale (retailers)
  • System organize transport, sorting and
    recycling/disposal of collected batteries
  • Surcharge on new batteries to finance this system
  • Collection rate is increasing but should be be
    further improved
  • Recycling of collected batteries gt60
  • Recycling of car batteries gt98 mandatory
    deposit system (appr. 10 when buying a new one
    without giving back an old one)

End of Life Vehicles (ELV)
  • European Directive on ELV is implemented
  • Prohibition to use certain heavy metals (lead,
    mercury, cadmium, chromium-6 with certain
    exemptions) in new vehicles (?new product
  • Take back obligation by producer or importer
  • Detailed Requirements for dismantling and
  • Recycling and recovery quotas of 85 in 2006 and
    95 in 2015 have to be achieved
  • Need to change the existing techniques (either
    more dismantling before the shredder process or
    sorting out recyclable fractions from shredder
    light weight waste)

Waste from Electric and electronic equipment
  • European Directives on WEEE and RoHS are
    implemented in Germany
  • Prohibition of certain heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Hg,
    Cr-6) and flame retardants in new equipment with
    few exemptions (? new product standard)
  • Consumers can give back old appliances without
    being charged for at municipal collection points
    (shared responsibility between industry and
    public waste management authorities)
  • Collection must achieve 5 kg per inhabitant and
    year (nationwide)
  • Take back obligation for producers and importers
    from municipal collection points
  • individual solution negotiable for commercially
    used equipment
  • Industry must proof high quotas for reuse,
    recycling and recovery (up to 80 of collected

Waste wood
  • Very large commodity (from demolition, furniture
    waste, packaging, production of wood products)
  • Legal ordinance with requirements and standards
    for material and energy recycling
  • No priority on material or energy recycling
    (renewable source)
  • Prohibition of disposing off waste wood in
  • Increasingly use for waste to energy due to
    promotion of electricity from renewable sources

Construction and Demolition Waste
  • Voluntary agreement by industry to reduce the
    wastes going to land fills by 50 in 10 years
  • Good results for demolition waste, very good
    results for road excavation waste and poor
    results for mixed wastes from construction sites
  • Results in 2002 (last year of data evaluation)
  • Total amount of waste from construction industry
    (all kinds) 214 mill t, recycling 186 mill ?
    reuse and recycling rate of 87
  • Total amount of demolition, construction and road
    excavation waste was 73 mill from which 51 mill t
    of secondary construction material was produced ?
    recycling rate of 70
  • Increasing problems to market secondary
    construction materials due to conflicts with more
    ambitious goals for the protection of groundwater
    and soil (conflicts between different authorities
    with different legal requirement)
  • Balance between environment in different areas,
    economy and Circular Economy has to be found
  • Probably a new regulation instead of

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But, not all waste can be avoided, recycled, or
recovered at least not presently! What should
be done with the remaining residual waste?
Problems with Landfilling
Landfill gas

CPB- Reactor
Surface water
Why landfilling of wastes is not a good solution
  • Mixed waste contains organic as well as hazardous
  • Production of landfill gas (only 50 can be
    collected and treated the remaining 50 are a
    hazard to climate)
  • Production of leachate (long term collection and
    treatment is necessary which is expensive)
  • Engineered barriers will not work for ever but
    fail in ???
  • Landfilling shifts problems only to the future
  • Remediation of old landfills may be necessary
    (problem for future generations) but how?
  • On the long term, landfill is the most expensive
    solution and the contrary of sustainability
  • Landfill of waste, therefore has lowest priority
    in Germany (and EU)
  • Exemptions for inert wastes, if not recyclable

Steps of Development (2)
  • Third stop landfilling of untreated MSW, because
  • Opposition from citizens against new sites
  • High costs for new landfills and aftercare
  • Old landfills became contaminated sites
  • Landfilling is the contrary of sustainability
  • Landfilling adds significantly to the emissions
    of climate damaging gases (methane)
  • New regulations limit the contents of
    biodegradable material (TOC) and of soluble
    hazardous substances

Treatment of solid wastes
  • Balance necessary between proven techniques and
    promising new developments has to be found
  • Proven solution Incineration
  • Efficient energy recovery
  • Recycling of ashes for construction purposes
  • Off gas treatment products go for recycling or
    into underground storage in deep salt formations
    (in Germany a means of recycling)
  • Alternatives (since 2002) Mechanical-Biological-T
  • Biological treatment in closed boxes to avoid
    hazardous emissions
  • Fraction with low calorific value (lt6000 kJ/kg)
    may be landfilled
  • Fraction with high calorific potential has to go
    for incineration with energy recovery
  • German regulations do not decide on technical
    solution but request a high standard of
    immobilisation of wastes, leaving open
    possibilities for new technologies (create no
  • Switzerland and Austria have achieved similar
    goals already in 2000/2004
  • European regulation is existent now with similar

Wastes must be treated before landfilling
  • Goals
  • Organic substances have to be mineralized
  • Soluble hazardous substances have to be destroyed
    or extracted or converted into stable condition
  • Solution
  • Thermal treatment destroys organic matter
  • Thermal treatment extracts soluble substances or
    transfers them into stable condition
  • Mechanical-biological treatment (alternative to
    incineration) needs thermal treatment for high
    calorific residues
  • Additional advantage substitution of energy

Steps of Development (3)
  • Fourth Consequences of restrictions for
    landfilling All MSW has to be pre-treated
    since 2005
  • Regulations do not define the way
  • but the results
  • specifications of pre-treated waste stringent
    requirements to protect emissions into air and

Integrated Waste Management System
secondary raw material
can be avoided
can be recovered
recycling or energy recovery
can be landfilled
thermal treatment
Abfallwirtschaft im Jahr 2001
Waste Management in Germany in 1990
Landfill 28 Mill tons
34 Mill tons of MSW
Waste Incineration 6 Mill tons
What are the solutions in Germany?
  • Waste incineration with efficient energy use and
    stringent emission control has priority
  • Mechanical-biological treatment with energy
    recovery of the high calorific fraction has
    second priority
  • Co-incineration of certain wastes in fossil fired
    power plants and cement kilns is used
    increasingly ( also secondary fuel to substitute
    fossil fuel in district heating, paper mill,
    chemical industry, tyre-production, metal
    affinery, even food production)
  • Anaerobic digestion of organic wastes with energy
    use of the bio-gas is increasing
  • Common denominator thermal treatment which has
    achieved political acceptance in Germany, even in
    the Green Party (pre requisites are limitation to
    residual waste and stringent emission standards)

Emissions from waste incineration in Germany (per
100 00 t of MSW)
Before 1990
210.000 t NOX410.000 t SO2 180 kg
Cd 130 kg Hg 6 g Dioxin
36.000 t NOX 0,9 t
SO2 1,2 kg Cd 1,2
kg Hg 0,003 g Dioxin
Steps of Development (4)
  • Fifth Solutions in Germany (public and private
  • Rely on proven technology Municipal Solid Waste
    Incineration (MSWI, mainly grate)
  • 73 MSWI facilities are operating presently
  • Total capacity of 17.9 million tons per year
  • Mechanical-biological-treatment (MBT)
  • 66 facilities with 7.2 mill t/y (26)
  • Co-incineration in coal fired power plants and
    cement kilns
  • presently only 2.3 mill t/y, 8
  • Praxis is similar in some other European
    countries like A, CH, DK, F, NL, S

alternative Technologies failed (1)
  • Thermoselect
  • One facility built at Karlsruhe
  • Never reached specifications/continuous operation
    ? shut down ? loss of 400 mill
  • Schwel-Brenn-Verfahren
  • Developed by experienced company (Siemens)
  • Pilot plant al Ulm worked well
  • First full scale facility started construction
    but was not finished due to technical problems
    and increasing costs
  • Gasification at Schwarze Pumpe
  • Facility worked well with specific wastes
  • Operation terminated due to not competitive high
    operating costs

alternative Technologies failed (2)
  • Pyrolysis
  • Several small sized plants were built
  • Only one is still operating (technical problems
    and how to dispose hazardous tar)
  • Plasma Technology
  • Only experiments and test rigs no large facility
    for waste has been realized
  • Katalytic Depolimerisation
  • Small test rig promises to transfer waste into
  • No large facility has proven to be available for
    mixed waste
  • Deep well injection
  • In theory an ideal solution for organic sludge
  • Technical realisation failed

Lessons to be learned
  • Established technologies for defined and clean
    substancies dont work autimaticly for
    heterogeneous wastes ? MSW chameleon
  • Alternative technologies have to cope with
  • Existing stringent emission standards
  • Warrant reliable continous operation
  • Verify a complete analysis of inputs/outputs
  • Proof of reliable costs (invest, operation,
  • If a solution for managing the arising wastes is
    needed urgently proven technology is
  • Decision to rely on alternative technology can
    only be recommended, if disposal of arising
    wastes will be secured in case of the new
    technology system fails

A new Experience Waste Management contributes to
Climate Protection(Research Report 205 33 314
BMU/UBA/Oeko-Institut/ifeu, 8/2005)
  • Methane-emissions from dumps are 21-times more
    effective than CO2
  • Out phasing landfills for solid waste in Germany
    has reduced such gas emissions significantly
  • Incineration of organic waste has no impact on
    climate change
  • Outphasing landfill and other waste activities
    contribute to a total reduction of 46 mill t CO2
    equivalents from 1990 until 2005 (which is the
    highest individual contribution to climate
    protection in Germany)
  • Mayor contributions for reductions aside out
    phasing of landfills are
  • MSWI and Co-incineration (substitution of fossil
  • Metal recycling
  • Paper recycling
  • Glass recycling
  • Total reductions from 1990 until 2020 are assumed
    to be 50 mill t, mainly by not landfilling (76),
    MSWI (9), co-incineration (7) and material
    recycling (5)
  • The reduction potential for the old EU (15 MS)
    could be 134 mill t CO2 equivalents, almost 100
    mill t from terminating landfilling!the (USA?)

Landfills are significant emitters of climate
changing gases
Organic substances in MSW lead to the generation
of methane. Reduction of emissions are possible
by- reduce landfilling of wastes-
pre-treatment of wastes- improved gas collection
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More information on www.bmu.de and http//europa.e
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