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As a result of the sustainable waste policy, the Circular Economy has developed rapidly in Germany in recent years. Meanwhile, it has become an important economic sector with specialised companies which offer innovative procedures and technologies for waste treatment.

Today’s technology makes it possible to reclaim individual products and materials from the waste, import them as new input into the system of the material flows and produce energy from waste.  

The lead market Circular Economy consists of four areas of application. They are, again, divided into eight technologies:

First of all, a well-organised and structured waste collection and transport system is needed, so that efficient waste sorting can be performed subsequently. In this connection, the correct waste separation plays an important role. The waste reclamation leads to the third stage, in which recycling is the most important form of reclamation1. It is aimed at recycling the total amount of waste.

According to statistical specifications of the Federal Environment Agency, the recycling of municipal waste and waste from production and industry has reached an average recycling rate of approx. 79 % in Germany in 2012.  

This includes, for example, the thermal waste treatment. Here, the waste is incinerated and thus the waste volume is reduced. The focus is on the contained energy. The resulting residual amounts are compacted and landfilled. For reasons of environmental protection and economy, it is, however, not always possible to ensure a complete reclamation of waste. Hazardous substances, which are contained in the waste and can be separated particularly difficult, should not be accumulated in the economic cycle, but they should be destroyed or rejected (preferably). Often, the landfill is the only economically acceptable possibility2. In order to design it sustainably as well, technologies such as the use of landfill gas and the environmentally compatible securing and elimination of hazardous substances can be used.

The environmental remediation is also an important part of the Circular Economy. By means of soil rehabilitation and renaturation, it is aimed at removing hazardous substances from contaminated landscapes and allowing further a restoration of the habitats.

According to the EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY, approximately 240,0003 of contaminated areas in Western,Central and Southern Europe have to be rehabilitated. A significant part of these areas (contaminated sites from mining, the arms industry and toxic residues from the chemical and heavy industry) is located in Eastern European countries. (Source: CleanTech in East Germany - ifo Dresden study).

More information about the Cleantech-lead market circular economy:

Importance of the Circular Economy in East Germany

1Beispiel: Recycling, Müllverbrennung, Kompostierung, Kryo-Kunstoffverfahren etc.
Cleantech in Ostdeutschland - ifo Dresden Studie
3EEA 2007