Manufacturing products consumes considerable resources. Furthermore, complex end products entail increasingly complex production chains. Most products are manufactured in a series of individual substeps, i.e. intermediates and components produced around the globe, which are processed to yield the final product. Throughout the entire production chain, from the mining of raw materials via the processing of these feedstocks to the actual specific production processes, vast amounts of waste in need of further management are generated during each individual step.
The individual steps in the production process consume considerable energy and other resources each, thus affecting the environment to a significant extent. Moreover, many of the products consumed in Germany are not manufactured within the country. A considerable number of intermediate suppliers and vendors are based in greater Europe or further abroad. Therefore, the manufacture of goods frequently follows local guidelines and may not comply with the technical and ecologic standards maintained in Germany.
Any management effort of waste materials, whether recycling, utilisation or disposal, is associated with environmental impacts. Even if a percentage of the arising waste materials is fed back into the material cycle of the production process, the overall burdens accumulated over the entire production chain will frequently neutralise and cancel out any positive effects derived from the feedback loop. However, successful extension of the service life of a product or the decrease of specific material input without compromise to the specific product benefits may result in significant improvements with respect to waste avoidance and conservation of resources.
Waste avoidance as a classic element of waste management is therefore still of vital importance. The significance of waste avoidance measures is being corroborated by recent changes in environmental politics concerning the conservation of natural resources and increased efforts to decouple resource consumption from economic development.
Traditionally, waste avoidance has been a prominent focus in waste management concepts developed by the IFEU, whether commissioned by public authorities or private businesses. Current projects are being carried out under the EU Waste Directive and aim to develop waste avoidance schemes. General aims of waste management politics are being translated into specific measures of waste avoidance and minimisation, and the implementation of said measures is supervised.
Waste avoidance encompasses a number of topics, with the IFEU primarily focussing on the construction sector as well as the minimisation of food waste.
Literature - in German
IFEU Institut / ID-Kommunikation, Abfallvermeidung in der Baubranche, Erarbeitung einer Broschüre im Auftrag des Landesamtes für Umwelt Baden-Württemberg, in Bearbeitung
IFEU Heidelberg, Minderung des Aufkommens an Lebensmittelabfällen an der Schnittstelle Einzelhandel / Verbraucher, im Auftrag der LUWG Rheinland-Pfalz, 2013
Bauteilnetz Deutschland, IFEU Heidelberg, BTU Cottbus, RWB Bremen, Instrumente zur Förderung der Wiederverwendung von Bauteilen und hochwertigen Verwertung von Baustoffen, im Auftrag des Umweltbundesamtes (FKZ 3712 32 319), 2013