No.: 3/2019Newsletter "UBA aktuell"

Dear Reader,

There is almost no better example of today’s “throwaway society” than the “coffee to go” in a disposable cup. In Germany, the number of cups that are used before frequently being carelessly discarded doesn’t just seem huge, it is huge. Read this edition of our newsletter to discover both the facts as well as our proposals for possible steps to counter this trend.

Potato peelings and coffee grounds, etc. are waste which is of considerably higher value – but only if they are collected separately. In our section on consumer tips and science and research, we look at the things that can be created from organic waste, the items that belong in the organic waste bin and those that don't.

Wishing you happy reading,

The UBA press office

Curbing the use of “coffee to go” cups

Disposable cups result in unnecessary amounts of waste and the unnecessary use of resources
Disposable cups result in unnecessary amounts of waste and the unnecessary use of resources
Source: Weixx /

According to a UBA study, in the year 2016, Germans used some 2.8 billion disposable cups for hot drinks alone. Cups which are usually discarded as waste after a few minutes – partial into the environment. As at least their coatings and lids are made of plastic, this poses a considerable problem. Disposable cups are among the “top ten” of disposable products containing plastic to be found littering the coastlines of Europe. But they can also be found in areas of forests and meadows as well.

A UBA study now presents proposals on how the use of disposable cups can be reduced by half over the next three years: Reusable cups – ideally ones with the “Blue Angel” environmental label – should be offered to customers as standard cups for coffee to go and this should be cheaper than the hot drinks in disposable cups. A “littering fund” should also be set up. Those who sell hot drinks in disposable cups should pay into the fund. The funds obtained in this way could be used for cleaning up the polluted environment and for information campaigns.

These and further measures can be implemented  with an agreement with the economic operators. If an ambitious agreement fails to be signed however, the measures should be enforced by law.

The FairCup scheme has been the first reusable cup system to have recently been awarded the “Blue Angel” environmental label. The special thing about the cups from the FairCup scheme is that they are easily returnable in the machines for collecting used containers at participating supermarkets. The first tests are currently under way at selected supermarkets in Göttingen and Hildesheim. Among others, the “Blue Angel” guarantees that the cups are durable and recyclable and they do not release any Bisphenol A, which is hazardous to health.

Consumer tips

The treasure in the organic waste bin

Organic waste has considerable unused potential – as compost or to generate energy, for example. What belongs in the organic waste bin? And what happens to the waste? Under the banner of “Aktion Biotonne Deutschland” (Organic waste bin campaign of Germany), from 18 May until 9 June of this year, municipalities and rural districts throughout Germany are holding campaigns to raise the awareness for separately collected organic waste without contaminating substances such as plastic.  read more (in German)

UBA portal provides tips on biocide-free pest control

Pesticides can pose a risk to people and the environment. The biocide portal of the UBA provides consumers with information about preventive measures and biocide-free alternatives to pesticides – to control rodents or insects, for example. The portal has been completely updated and is now available online under the banner of the UBA homepage.  read more (in German)

Everyday soil protection

Our food grows in soil, and soil also stores water and nutrients, provides protection against flooding and is able to absorb CO2. We provide tips on protecting the soil in the garden, in everyday life and during farming.  read more (in German)

UBA positions

Biogas plants must become safer and lower-emission

Biogas from slurry or crop residues rather than fossil fuels is generally positive for our climate. At the same time, however, biogas plants also pose a risk to people, our climate and the environment. To prevent gases which are harmful to our climate and substances posing a threat to water from being released from these plants, and to stop highly flammable gases causing accidents, the UBA recommends a legally binding ordinance for biogas plants.  read more (in German)

Dumping of kerosene by aircraft does not pose a critical threat to people or the environment

For safety reasons, it is sometimes necessary for aircraft to dump fuel if they have to make an emergency landing shortly after taking off. According to its current knowledge, the UBA does not consider the dumping of such fuel to pose a critical threat to people or the environment. As a precaution, the operating instructions of the German Air Traffic Control should specify that the dumping of fuel should not always occur over the same geographical areas.  read more (in German)

Science and research

Hausfassade mit Baugerüst

Energy efficiency of residential buildings on the rise, but at a slower rate

Although housing in Germany is becoming more energy efficient, the upward trend has nearly flattened out. These are the findings of a new research project by the German Environment Agency (UBA) which evaluated data collected nationwide on energy consumption and the status of modernisation of residential buildings between 2002 and the present. read more

Better recovery of organic waste

The recovery of organic waste from our kitchens and gardens must be improved so that it can continue to be processed into fertiliser and humus or used for the generation of energy. A recent study by the UBA sheds light on the recovery of organic waste and the changes necessary at existing plants for the treatment of organic waste so that the recovery is as high quality as possible.  read more (in German)

Increase the production of biogas from slurry and organic waste

The fermentation of slurry and organic waste in biogas plants can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the storage, treatment and recovery processes, and also generate energy. At present, however, only a third of the arising quantity finds its way into the biogas plant in Germany. The findings of an UBA research project demonstrate the way in which this share can be increased.  read more (in German)

Protecting the climate: roadmap for the gas industry and infrastructure

With the implementation of the energy and climate goals of the German federal government, the demand for gas in Germany is set to fall considerably over the decades to come. A study commissioned by the German Environment Agency highlights the associated adaptations to the gas infrastructure.  read more (in German)

UBA study: animal welfare can support environmental protection

What is the impact of the state animal welfare label for pigs on the environment and animal welfare? This is the topic of the UBA study “Animal welfare and environmental protection – a conflict of interests or a win-win situation?”. Intensive livestock farming damages the environment due to surpluses of nutrients, greenhouse gases and loss of biodiversity. At the same time, people also support better husbandry conditions and greater animal welfare.  read more (in German)

Ecodesign is of relevance to the recycling of electrical equipment

Improving the material efficiency of products is becoming an increasing area of focus of environmental policy steps. In this context, a recent UBA study demonstrates how design requirements can improve the recoverability of precious and special metals in particular as well as of plastics in specific electrical equipment. In addition, factors such as durability and repair capability were also taken into account.  read more (in German)

Industry & environment

Protecting the climate pays dividends for the German economy

An ambitious climate protection policy creates jobs, accelerates the modernisation of the economy, and strengthens both export and domestic markets. These are just some of the findings of the research project “Economic opportunities through climate protection.”  read more (in German)

Conference on online retail & environmental and consumer protection

What rules does the world of online retail require for effective environmental and consumer protection? And how can they be implemented? This is the topic of a specialist conference which takes place on 18 June 2019 in Berlin, and is hosted by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment and the Federal Ministry for Justice and Consumer Protection in cooperation with the German Environment Agency. Focal points: electrical equipment including batteries, packaging and chemicals.  read more (in German)

Rock from tunnel drilling becomes high quality construction material

How can more than a million tonnes of sand and gravel which arise when drilling a railway tunnel be turned into a useful construction material rather than being sent to a landfill site? This was demonstrated by a project in the environmental innovation programme using a specific construction project: the construction of the Rastatt railway tunnel in Baden-Württemberg.  read more (in German)

"Green Finance” conference: presentations and video interviews

In November 2018, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, together with the environmental offices of Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein as well as the Ministry of the Environment of Luxembourg, invited guests to attend a dialogue and experience-based discussion on green finance. The presentations and video interviews from the speakers are now online.  read more (in German)

Paths to a resource-saving electricity industry

The German Environment Agency is providing a new material flow-oriented knowledge basis for the secondary raw materials industry on a topic portal which brings together and expands on the existing statistics on waste, trade and production. From this knowledge basis, it is possible to derive the resource conservation effects of the German industry for secondary raw materials at home and abroad.  read more (in German)

Environment at municipal level

2nd “Pesticide-free municipality” conference

Increasing numbers of municipalities are making efforts to stop using plant protection products and limit the use of biocide products. At a UBA conference in Dessau-Roßlau on 9 and 10 September 2019, you can gain your own picture of the situation. The conference will include interesting lectures as well as presentations on the removal of weeds without the use of herbicides as well as non-toxic rodent control.  read more (in German)

Better footpaths in cities strengthen bus and rail

An attractive footpath to a stop also makes using bus and rail services more attractive. A guide from the Verkehrsclub Deutschland e.V. (VCD) (Transport Club of Germany) highlights the ways in which municipalities can improve footpaths on the basis of ten easy-to-implement steps. The guide was compiled as part of the “Zu Fuß zur Haltestelle” (Walk to the stop) project, which was supported by the UBA and the Federal Ministry of the Environment.  read more (in German)

Environment at international level

Questions and answers on European aid to agriculture

The EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a comprehensive instrument of management and finance for both European agriculture and environmental protection in the world of agriculture. From the perspective of the UBA, the CAP should be realigned to create stronger incentives for protecting the environment and the natural world. Presently, the potential from the perspective of the environment is a long way from being realised.  read more (in German)

Sustainable mobility encourages sustainable overall development

A sustainable transport policy can make a major contribution to a sustainable overall development. This is because transport influences the environment and human health. A new UBA brochure highlights the ways in which, as part of the “Pan-European Programme for Transport, Health and the Environment” (THE PEP), EU Member States can advance Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development of the United Nations.  read more (in German)

Cooperation between Germany and India in the area of waste water and waste

On 5 and 6 February 2019, during the run-up to the third German-Indian Forum for the Environment, representatives from the Federal Ministry of the Environment, GIZ and the German Environment Agency met, among others, with representatives from the Indian Ministry for the Environment, Forestry and Climate Protection in New Delhi.  read more (in German)

Law & legislation

Less plastic in the environment – EU agrees to directive

Straws, disposable cups and cotton buds are among the ten most common disposable plastic products found on European beaches. Both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have now given the green light to a package of measures (including the ban on plastic drinking straws from 2021) aimed at significantly reducing the amount of this plastic waste in the environment. The UBA welcomes these measures.  read more (in German)

UBA news

Project funding for associations: Apply for 2020 now

Environmental and nature conservation associations are able to apply for project funding for the year 2020 until 31 July.  read more (in German)

Family-friendly employers sought in Dessau-Roßlau

The Dessau-Roßlau employers’ initiative for “Family-friendly work” is awarding prizes – the closing date for applications is 31 July 2019.  read more (in German)

Recently published

Cover of publication Comparison of the environmental properties of parasiticides and harmonisation of the basis for environmental assessment at the EU level

Comparison of the environmental properties of parasiticides and harmonisation of the basis for environmental assessment at the EU level

Parasiticides are veterinary pharmaceuticals very frequently used in pasture animals. Particularly substances of the classes of avermectins and milbemycins are very common. These substances are highly toxic to non-target organisms, often stable in the environment (persistent) and may potentially accumulative in organisms. The present project contributes to filling environmental data gaps for more

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Cover of publication CLIMATE CHANGE 16/2019 Economic Opportunities of Climate Action

Economic Opportunities of Climate Action

Climate protection pays off! This is the central statement of the study "Economic opportunities through climate protection". The study examined which economic effects climate protection policy has had so far and which potentials will arise in the future. The results show: Climate protection goes hand in hand with innovation. Together with the necessary investments in renewable energies, energy more

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Cover of the publication "Climate Change 14/2019: Global greenhouse gas emission pathways until 2050" of the Umweltbundesamt

Global greenhouse gas emission pathways until 2050

The project „Global greenhouse gas emission pathways until 2050“ assesses the requirements for limiting future global temperature rise to well below 2°C. It then explores to what extent current climate policies, and especially the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) support or endanger the achievement of the non-climate specific UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) and from here more

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Cover of publication CLIMATE CHANGE 24/2019 Submission under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol 2019

Submission under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol 2019

National Inventory Report for the German Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990 – 2017

As a Party to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC), since 1994 Germany has been obliged to prepare, publish and regularly update national emission inventories of greenhouse gases. Pursuant to Decision 24/CP.19, all Parties listed in ANNEX I of the UNFCCC are required to prepare and submit annual National Inventory Reports (NIRs) containing detailed and complete information more

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Cover der Publikation TEXTE 53/2019 Sustainability in tourism: developments, approaches and clarification of terms

Sustainability in tourism: developments, approaches and clarification of terms

The concepts of sustainability and tourism are both highly complex. Tourism is defined by the activities of travellers and all related economic sectors as well as the resulting effects on the environment and society. Sustainability, on the other hand, encompasses at least the three dimensions of environment, social affairs and economy, and sometimes also other dimensions such as management. more

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As recounted



Some 390 pieces of waste can be found on a 100 metre length of beach at the North Sea. Almost 89 percent of them are made from plastic. 94 percent of the Northern Fulmars to be found dead have plastic in their stomachs. Find additional data and facts in our fact sheet on marine litter.



Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency)
Präsidialbereich / Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, Internet; Pressesprecher
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06844 Dessau-Roßlau, Germany
Phone: +49(0) 340 2103-2416
Fax: +49(0) 340 2103-2285

Corinne Meunier

Six times a year our Newsletter „UBA aktuell“ provides information about the latest activities and work of the German Environment Agency (UBA).

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