A raft of measures to protect the environment from the adverse impacts of waste
The German Government's Waste Prevention Programme was adopted by the Cabinet today. For the first time, the Programme sets out a systematic and comprehensive approach for preventing waste in the public sector, by recommending specific instruments and measures. At the same time, the Cabinet's resolution will open up a dialogue on waste prevention between the Federal Government, Länder, municipalities and other stakeholders. The Federal Länder were involved in the drafting of the Programme.
The so-called waste hierarchy under the Closed Cycle Management Act prioritises waste prevention. There are many ways of preventing waste, such as reusing products, designing minimal-waste products, and extending the life span of products. Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier explains, "There are many ways to prevent waste from occurring in the first place. All of us - the public sector, manufacturers and distributors of products, and consumers - have a part to play in this regard. We need to make better use of this potential".
The Waste Prevention Programme examines various approaches to waste prevention throughout the various stages of a product's lifecycle, including measures that address production, product design, retail, trade, and the use of products. Alongside the key criteria of waste prevention potential and ecological impacts, the analysis also considers economic, social and legal criteria. Only measures that are expected to have a beneficial effect in view of all these criteria are recommended for inclusion in the Waste Prevention Programme.
As well as information and sensitisation, coupled with research and development, the Waste Prevention Programme also pursues the following objectives:
- To actively support European research into waste-saving criteria within the context of the EU Ecodesign Directive
- To provide organizational and/or financial support to structures aimed at the reuse / multiple use of products, as well as repair centres
- To promote the concept of "renting or borrowing rather than buying", which encourages the more intensive use of commodities by a larger group of users (such as car sharing)
- Concerted campaigns and agreements between public institutions, industry and retailers to minimise food waste at every stage of the production and supply chain
- To extend the Blue Angel scheme to include more product groups; to offer practical guidance to awarding authorities and encourage them to put more emphasis on resource efficiency and waste prevention aspects.
The Waste Prevention Programme will also allow the German Government to enter into a more long-term, in-depth dialogue with the Länder, local government and other stakeholders to promote waste prevention.