In its two-day session early this week, the jury reviewed and evaluated 137 submissions in the project rooms of feldfünf e.V. in Berlin. After deliberations, the environmental and design experts nominated 28 projects for the German Ecodesign Award 2022. The ultimate winners of the award will be announced by Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke at the award ceremony on 5 December. read more
The concept of a green economy is a new paradigm for economic development. It allows for a positive and robust interconnection between ecological and economic factors, and is thus a genuine boon to the well being of society as a whole. Transforming our current economy into a green economy will necessitate across the board ecological modernization of our current business practices, particularly in terms of resource use, emission reduction, product design and value chain transformation. Measures that promote environmental innovation will play a key role here. The UBA is currently elaborating guiding principles and is developing recommendations aimed at promoting this transformation process.
To do this, it is necessary to analyze the myriad interrelationships between the environmental and economic aspects of modern life, and to leverage the latent synergies between environmental protection and economic development. For example, it is essential to analyze environmental economics and emerging eco-markets. German companies are world leaders in these rapidly growing markets, and if they successfully maintain this position the German economy stands to benefit greatly. Environmental protection also creates jobs in fields such as climate and resource protection. Environmental protection cost benefit analyses are another key field of endeavor. This involves, for example, prognosticating the potential benefits of environmental policy measures by virtue of the fact that they help to counter environmental pollution and health hazards. The UBA has developed a methodology for projecting environmental costs and has issued recommendations for best-practice estimates in areas such as greenhouse emissions and air pollution.
Industrial manufacturing is one of the key worldwide sources of emissions that pose a hazard for the environment and human health. Hence the UBA is promoting efforts to optimize current environmental standards. Current international environmental protection agreements aim to promote the harmonization of such standards based on the best available techniques (BATs), with the aim of substantially raising the bar in this domain. Such efforts help to avoid situations where environmental pollution is simply “relocated” to states with relatively lax environmental standards. BATs are enshrined in German law as the gold standard. It is essential that both resource use and emissions be permanently reduced to environmentally sustainable levels in the industrial sector . Key to such efforts is the development of innovative eco-friendly manufacturing processes. Energy and environmental management systems are also one of the main drivers of business process optimization. There is also considerable room for improvement in the areas of industrial-accident prevention and plant safety.
But eco-friendly manufacturing processes aren’t enough, for products themselves need to be safer from both an ecological and health standpoint. Key to accomplishing this are product specific environmental standards, which are instrumental when it comes to keeping products contaminant free. Broad-based enshrining of eco-design criteria in industrial products can help to make them safer from an environmental standpoint and more readily recyclable across their entire lifecycles. Measures such as eco-labels and product energy-consumption information enable consumers to separate the wheat from the chaff in the realm of environmental pollution. UBA consumer advice provides consumers with information on how they can live more eco-friendly lives. But of course eco-friendly procurement is also a key factor when it comes to promoting the use of more eco-friendly products.
Sustainability at the supermarket: retailers not tapping their full potential
The food retailing sector is taking action to promote environmental protection. Examples include store organic brands, a larger selection of vegan products or energy efficiency increases in their food outlets and business offices. On the whole, the companies studied could make much greater use of their influence and scope for action, says a recent study by the German Environment Agency (UBA). read more
From 1 July: 25,000 additional collection sites for waste electrical and electronic equipment
With effect from 1 July 2022, food retailers with a total sales area of at least 800 square metres who offer electrical and electronic equipment several times a year or on a permanent basis must now also take back waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) free of charge. This will apply to the majority of food retailers in Germany. read more
Giving value added tax an ecological and social dimension
The German Environment Agency (UBA) has proposed aligning VAT more closely with ecological and social criteria. The core of the "Climate and Environment Relief Package" is to exempt plant-based staple foods such as fruit, vegetables, grain products and vegetable oils and public passenger transport from VAT altogether. read more
Economizing during the energy crisis
Against the background of the war in Ukraine, the German Environment Agency is making an appeal for more economical energy consumption. It is easy for private households to help in the effort: turn down the thermostat, install a water saving showerhead and drive cars less and at slower speed. All these measures can be realized immediately and cost little to no money. read more
Environmental awareness: Great momentum for socio-ecological transformation
People in Germany expect more political action to protect the environment and climate as environmental awareness of the damaging influence of pollution has grown over the past 20 years. These are the findings of a detailed analysis of the Environmental Awareness in Germany 2020 study. read more
Corporate Sustainability Reporting faces major changes
About 500 German undertakings are obliged to include sustainability-related information in their annual reports. According to the plans of the EU Commission more undertakings shall report in the future and apply uniform reporting standards. A study on behalf of UBA recommends precise requirements for reporting on targets, actions and performance indicators and corporate greenhouse gas neutrality. read more
Avoiding pollutants in construction materials
Building materials such as bituminous sheeting, roofing tiles, exterior rendering and plastered facades can release harmful substances into the environment during the building phase, says a new study by the German Environment Agency (UBA). The good news is that pollutant leaching from building envelopes can be prevented almost entirely with little effort. read more