Waste management in Germany has undergone considerable change since the early 1990s. Both the policy and legal framework, as well as voluntary commitments and declarations of the industry, have allowed a paradigm shift from a disposal economy towards a circular economy..
This paradigm shift allowed a considerable contribution of waste management to climate protection. For instance, after the landfill ban for untreated waste adopted in 2005, generation of methane emissions effectively ceased altogether. Municipal solid waste is increasingly source-separated and recycled or recovered in Germany since the ban came into effect. This avoids the consumption of primary raw materials for production or energy purposes, and makes an additional important contribution to climate protection as well as resource conservation and environmental protection.
All contributions of waste management to climate and environmental protection are modelled and quantified with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, which allows a holistic evaluation of waste management activities. Both direct emissions and emissions avoided by substitution of primary products and energy factor into a model. The results represent mitigation potentials. They offer decision-making aids in politics, for public authorities andthe industry. Moreover, LCA results transparently identify opportunities for substantial emission mitigation.