From waste prevention, reuse and recycling to disposal – the waste management sector applies a multitude of strategies. However, the potential to recover and reuse the raw materials and valuable resources found in waste is still not being utilised to the full. All too often, waste is incinerated or sent to landfill instead of being made available for high-quality recycling – even though this form of recycling can help to mitigate climate change. For example, if plastics – which are manufactured from oil – are not recycled properly but are incinerated in inefficient base-load power plants, they produce high carbon emissions, which will not be offset by relevant benefits in future.
With separate collection, sorting and treatment, the valuable resources found in waste can be recovered and climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions reduced. The Oeko-Institut works on various aspects of waste management, from prevention to recycling. The experts undertake comparative analyses of various technological and regulatory approaches and develop recommendations for policy-makers and businesses in order to promote the most sustainable alternatives.