Elektromüll auf einem Haufen
Family Business / stock.adobe.com
2024-04-01 VDE dialog

Germany’s waste

While the total volume of waste has remained at a similar level for years, its composition has changed. There is less residual waste, and more materials are recycled.

For a number of years, the gross volume of waste in Germany has remained at a more or less constant level. In 2021, it amounted to 411.5 million metric tons. More than half of this was construction and demolition waste. This is often excavated soil material, much of which, like the other mineral waste, can be recycled (approximately 86 percent). Other important waste groups are waste from trade and industry (2021: 49.6 million metric tons) and mining waste (29 million metric tons).

Half a metric ton of domestic waste per person

At around 50 million metric tons in total per year, the amount of municipal waste has remained relatively constant (municipal waste includes all waste from private households and comparable establishments, for example medical and legal practices, administrative buildings, schools, kindergartens, hospitals and care facilities, as well as household-like waste from trade and industry).

However, recent years have seen a significant increase in the amount of household waste. While in 2000, the figure was 458 kilograms, it had risen to 562 kilograms in 2021.

It pays to separate

At the same time, however, the proportion of recycled waste increased. In 2000, only around 51 percent was recycled. By 2021 it was already 98 percent, 69 percent of which included the recycling of materials.

This type of recycling is based on separate collection, a process which is running more and more smoothly. In 2021, for example, household waste made up 14.3 million metric tons of municipal waste; in 2000, this figure stood at 18 million metric tons. In this period, then, the quantity of separately collected fractions like glass, paper and packaging increased from 13.5 to 18 million metric tons.

(Source: Umweltbundesamt, Statistisches Bundesamt)