Germany’s raw material stockpile:What’s in buildings, roads, etc?

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A country lacking in raw materials? Germany is rich in secondary raw materials.
Source: Henry Czauderna /

Extracting more and more new raw materials is unsustainable. The future ideal is a closed-loop, circular economy which, through “urban mining”, obtains many of its raw materials from end-of-life houses, piping, cables, cars and appliances rather than from mines and quarries. An UBA study has determined the types and quantities of potential secondary raw materials available in Germany.

Germany’s so-called “anthropogenic material stock” including stones, metals, wood and plastics was estimated to amount to a total material stock of 51.7 billion tonnes. This roughly corresponds to the total quantity of raw materials extracted globally in the year 2000. In follow-on projects, the German Environment Agency plans to have reliable forecasts on available secondary raw materials developed on the basis of these data and an urban mining strategy prepared. This will make it possible in future not only to save precious resources, but also to reduce dependency on raw material imports.