Waste management plans, demand forecasts and waste statistics

Within the framework of the German Circular Economy Act and other legal requirements, the individual federal states regularly draw up and publish waste management plans and demand forecasts. From these data, the regional need for action regarding the creation of landfill capacities can be identified. The regular Waste Balance Sheet of the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt) provides a nationwide overview of the actual amount as well as the recycling and disposal rates of waste by type.

Biggest waste stream: Mineral waste

Looking at the current Waste Balance Sheet of the Federal Statistical Office, the 2016 waste volume of 412 million tonnes is distributed as follows:

Construction and demolition waste biggest waste streams

Waste streams according to the 2016 Waste Balance Sheet of the Federal Statistical Office  

With more than 50%, construction and demolition waste remains by far the largest waste stream. The recycling quota of these mineral materials amounts to 88%, approx. 25 million tonnes were deposited.

Construction and demolition waste is supplemented by other mineral waste from the thermal recycling of municipal waste. In Germany, for example, around 5 million tonnes of ash from municipal solid waste incineration are produced every year, some of which are sent to landfill if no other recycling route, such as earthworks, road construction or landfill construction, is available after processing. In addition, there are other waste streams, e.g. from production and trade.

Waste disposal according to the Waste Balance Sheet of the Federal Statistical Office

The recycling rate for all waste streams in Germany is 79%. In total, 79.4 million tonnes of waste were disposed of in 2016, 69.6 million tonnes of which were sent to landfill.

Waste types by disposal and recovery

Mineral waste: Mainly low contaminated construction and demolition waste

Mineral waste such as soil, building rubble, gypsum, ash or asphalt are low contaminated mineral waste and, if they are not recyclable, are typically deposited at class I landfill sites. 

Mineral waste such as building rubble, soil or asphalt can be partially recycled

Planning landfill capacities: Responsibility of local authorities

Disposal on landfills after waste treatment

In accordance with the German Circular Economy Act (KrWG), municipalities are responsible for providing sufficient landfill space. In accordance with § 20 KrWG, as a public waste management authority, they are responsible for the disposal of municipal waste as well as for the accepting of other types of waste, such as construction and demolition waste and soil.

The Waste Framework Directive requires that waste management plans are developed. Mandatory inventories such as these show that in some federal states there may be shortfalls of disposal capacities in the short to medium term. Especially affected would be the largest waste stream, the low contaminated mineral waste, if countermeasures are not taken. Therefore, municipalities are called upon to fulfil their task of providing sufficient landfill volume for lightly to moderately contaminated mineral waste.

In addition to long-term disposal security, it is also in the interest of the municipalities to ensure stable and affordable waste fees. This is why it is equally important for municipalities to operate landfills economically, to make the best possible use of existing landfill capacities and to identify the best sites such as existing landfills for the creation of additional capacities.