Waste prevention

A waste container being emptied Click to enlarge
A waste container being emptied
Source: Kadmy / Fotolia.com

The Waste Policy aims to to protect the environment and human health by preventing and reducing the adverse impacts of the generation and management of waste. The Waste Management Act (KrWG) requires to set up a German waste prevention program , with the goal of implementing the relevant EU requirement. The German Government's Waste Prevention Programme was adopted by the Cabinet on 31 July 2013.

Waste Prevention as part of protecting the environment and human health

Waste policy aims to protect natural resources, human beings and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of waste generation and management. Severing the link between the use of resources and economic growth is an important environmental policy goal. Because waste always originates from former raw materials and products, waste prevention can make a significant contribution to this objective. The aim of waste prevention is to decouple economic growth from the impacts on human health and the environment caused by waste production. The operational objectives apply before a substance, material or product has to become waste, are:

  • Reducing the quantity of waste
  • Reducing the adverse impacts of waste
  • Reducing the content of harmful substances in materials and products

The revised EU Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EG) adopted in 2008 reinforces the importance of waste prevention in EU waste legislation. The obligation for Member States to establish waste prevention programmes by 12 December 2013 (Article 29, para. 1) is an important part of this directive. Article 33 of the Waste Management Act (KrWG) creates the statutory foundations for a waste prevention program as required by the Waste Framework Directive, and states that the Federation shall draw up a waste prevention programme, and the Federal States (Länder) may take part in the preparation thereof. Germany’s waste prevention program is based on the scientific and technical findings of a study titled "Substantive implementation of Article 29 of Directive 2008/98/EC” ( scientific-technical foundation for  a national waste prevention program) that conducted in-depth investigations of selected federal, regional and municipal waste prevention instruments. The study’s findings estimate waste prevention potential and the ecological impact of waste prevention instruments and discuss possible indicators that would allow to quantifyand monitor the success of the waste prevention program. The measures recommended by the study take into account all product life-cycle stages such as avoiding waste generation in production (in German), design products in a way that avoids waste generation (in German) and promote waste prevention by making more durable products. The graphic below illustrates the supply chain phases that were taken into account.

The measures recommended by the study (e.g. disseminating information, raising awareness) have inherent waste prevention potential or would lay the groundwork for successful waste prevention measures. Needless to say, implementing such measures should not entail any seriously negative ecological, social or economic effects.
Oftentimes it is not individual waste prevention measures but rather the interplay between multiple instruments that successfully avoid waste generation. For in point of fact, many measures reinforce or complement each other.
Using these UBA findings as a basis, the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) elaborated Germany’s first nationwide waste prevention program, which was approved by the cabinet on 31 July 2013.

In the interest of raising consumer awareness concerning waste prevention, during this year’s European Week for Waste Reduction (16-25 November 2013), a host of initiatives and projects on this subject will be presented. Representatives from cities, companies and environmental groups are invited to present their ideas and activities to the general public at this year’s event.
The numerous events that will be held nationwide during this year’s European Week for Waste Reduction reflect the broad spectrum of waste prevention instruments, ranging from advice and training, to websites and networking events.
The European Week for Waste Reduction is sponsored by the European Commission, under the aegis of the LIFE+ program. The UBA and Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) support Germany’s participation in the event, while the federal organization of NABU coordinates event activities in Germany.

European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR)

In the interest of raising consumer awareness concerning waste prevention, a host of initiatives and projects on this subject are presented during the annual European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR). Last year’s EWWR took place from 22 to 30 November 2014. Representatives from municipalities, companies and environmental groups were invited to present their ideas and activities to the general public. The numerous events that were held nationwide during the 2014 EWWR reflect the broad spectrum of waste prevention measures, ranging from advice and training, to websites and exchanges, and many others.
The European Week for Waste Reduction is sponsored by the European Commission in the framework of the LIFE+ programme. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) support Germany’s participation in the EWWR. Since October 2014, the Berlin-based Verband kommunaler Unternehmen e.V. (VKU) has been in charge of coordinating the Waste Reduction Week and the Clean-up Days on behalf of the BMUB.

VKU website

Overview of 2014 EWWR (in German)

The UBA participated in the 2014 EWWR with an event it conducted on 25 November 2014 jointly with the University of Cooperative Education in Riesa. Under the motto “Preventing food waste – But how?”, students of the university discussed related issues with experts from the Federal Environment Agency, Friends of the Earth Germany and others.

EWWR event in Riesa (in German)

Programme (in German)

Report on the joint event (in German)

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