GERMANY: End to landfilling of domestic waste by 2020

An ambitious plan from the German Environment Ministry includes proposals to end all landfilling of domestic waste by 2020, a moratorium on new landfills and legislative change to allow mechanical-biological waste pre-treatment - a form of large-scale composting.

“We consider the landfill sites we have to be sufficient because our production of waste has been decreasing,” Mr Elsener of the Environment Ministry told edie. “We don’t think we need any more landfills. The aim to end domestic waste going to landfill sites by 2020 is a political aim.” About 60% of Germany’s 30m annual tonnes of domestic waste is currently landfilled.

Incineration is the legally-allowed pre-treatment technique in Germany, but MBT, a form of composting, is a key component of the proposed domestic waste policy. “We hope to have the legislation for MBT by the end of 2000, but you never know how long it will take,” said Mr Elsener. “It will be a very heated discussion. Some cities have invested in big incinerator plants and they may fear that these will not reach capacity if MBT is allowed.”

Another aspect of the proposed policy is the goal for all waste going to landfill to undergo some form of pre-treatment. A deadline of 2005 has been proposed, by which time mandatory pre-treatment must result in the organic fraction going to landfill to be no more than 5%. It is unclear as to whether MBT alone could meet the maximum 5% organic target.

Discussions with Germany’s regions, municipalities and with finance officials will take place before the domestic waste policy is adopted.

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