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. read more
One of the UBA’s main goals is to reduce resource use along with the environmental impact of such use as a whole and across the entire value chain. Against this backdrop, cutting back on waste and using it as a source of secondary raw materials and energy can make a significant contribution to resource conservation in the guise of resource friendly manufacturing processes, products and usage modalities.
Sparing and efficient use of natural resources is crucial not only from an ecological standpoint, but is also a major economic and social challenge. Hence resource conservation and resource policy constitute an inter-disciplinary field encompassing myriad strategies and stakeholders. This in turn means that we need to define a carefully constructed policy mix with just the right instruments for the tasks at hand. And this is where the UBA comes in. We devise concepts aimed at enshrining resource conservation in environmental policy along the entire value chain, beginning with raw material extraction, product design, the commercial and usage phases, and finally recycling and disposal. We also place great emphasis on informing and networking with the general public, business leaders and policymakers, and on the elaboration of ambitious objectives and the instruments needed to achieve them. Developing waste management, which is now primarily a disposal oriented activity, into a raw materials oriented recycling system is also taking on ever growing importance for us.